Look out

Whatever plans we make, the world around us will have an influence. To make your organisational strategy as robust as possible, it’s vital to spend some time considering your external environment. Identifying how different things affect or might affect your organisation in the future will help you make the most of opportunities and to prepare for change. Use the information you gather to open up choices for the coming years.

Strategic analysis

This process of scanning your environment, also known as strategic analysis, can be used to explore what is going on outside your organisation now, as well as what might happen in the future. Consider other players around you – your competitors and allies - as well as more general trends.

Some people argue that it’s pointless to try and predict the future. But spending time thinking about the key things that influence your organisation and the likely changes on the horizon, will help you stay prepared and able to make informed decisions.

Get help

This website specialises in identifying key trends and forces that affect the voluntary and community sector. It also provides practical advice to help you decide how important each change might be for your organisation, and how you might make the most of new opportunities and minimise risks. Find out more about strategic analysis.

Tools

There are also a range of tools that you might find useful:

  • PEST (political, economic, social and technological influences)
  • other player analysis: a way to explore your relationship with allies and competitors
  • core competencies: to identify competitors’ particular strengths
  • scenario planning: creating a picture of a possible future to help it feel more real 

What next?

You can use the insights you have gathered about your operating environment to open up choices for your organisational strategy. To make sure you have the full picture, it’s also important at this stage to look inside your organisation to identify your strengths, weaknesses and capacity.

What are your experiences of strategic planning? Share your triumphs and tribulations with our network members or write your own tips by commenting on this page.

Last updated at 18:06 Mon 12/Apr/10.

Discuss

How will this affect your organisation? Have you considered it during your strategic planning? Can you share any interesting relevant links?

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