Approaches to Environmental Scanning

Description: Before preparing an organization’s plans, the team needs to understand the history and current dilemmas, as well as anticipate industry trends. Environmental scanning provides a way to quickly tap into relevant factual data and customer, staff or community perceptions. This course specializes in getting groups on the same page to begin their strategic work. Teaches ten different ways to perform an assessment with a group, including hands-on practice and matching the right approach to the situation.

The ten methods include:

  1. Brief Trends Conversation
  2. Extended Current Situation/Trends Conversation
  3. Quick Situation Assessment 1
  4. Quick Situation Assessment 2
  5. Cooperative Study of Complex Data
  6. The Wave Metaphor (4 levels)
  7. Extended Wave Metaphor (5 levels)
  8. Strategic Juncture Analysis
  9. Wall of Wonder
  10. Social and Corporate Process Triangles



  • Establish foundation of knowledge about the external trends to consider when preparing plans and strategies.
  • Document organizational history and current situation as a foundation for future strategy building.
  • Quickly and easily study industry materials and reports.
  • Gather participant information for important planning decisions.
  • Integrate group knowledge and diverse points of view and perspectives.
  • Facilitate engaging and highly participatory processes to create common understanding.



  •  Integrates thinking from subject matter experts and key informants.
  • Anticipates future business trends and alternative scenarios.
  • Saves time in reviewing and interpreting large amounts of information.


Who Should Take this Course:

  • Those who want to set a foundation for strategic thinking and proactive planning
  • Business leaders
  • Local, state, and federal leaders and program managers
  • Strategic planners
  • Team leaders
  • Facilitators and consultants


Course Length: One day

Prerequisite: ToP® Facilitation Methods

Recommended: ToP® Strategic Planning