April 20, 2023

In today's ever-changing environment, individuals and organizations have to keep a constant eye on the environment in which they operate.  An environmental scan helps people and businesses identify external factors that can impact their operations.  A scenario plan allows them to  anticipate future events that may impact their goals.  In this article, we explore the concepts of environmental scanning, Pestle analysis, and scenario planning and their relevance to modern organizations.

What is Environmental Scanning?

Environmental scanning is the process of gathering information about the environment in which an organization operates. The purpose of environmental scanning is to identify opportunities and threats that might impact the organization. Businesses conduct an environmental scan to identify trends, analyze industry data, and research the competitive landscape. The scan may include:

Analyzing market trends and customer behavior and preferences

Looking at social media and public relations trends

Researching industry benchmarks and competition

Studying current economic conditions.

PESTLE Analysis

One of the most useful methods of environmental scanning is the PESTLE analysis. This analytical tool helps organizations identify external factors that influence their business decisions. PESTLE stands for political, economic, sociocultural, technological, legal, and environmental factors. Conducting a PESTLE analysis helps organizations to understand the macro-environmental factors that influence their operations.

DESTEP Process

The DESTEP process is another environmental scanning tool used by businesses to analyze their external environment. DESTEP stands for demographic, economic, social, technological, ecological, and political factors. The tool enables businesses to identify the external factors that may impact their operations and make informed decisions about how to respond.

Scenario Planning

Scenario planning is a strategic planning tool that helps businesses deal with uncertain futures. It involves developing a range of plausible future scenarios that could influence a particular situation or event. Through scenario planning, businesses can envision various potential outcomes and prepare accordingly.

Scenario Planning History

Scenario planning has been in use for centuries. Its origins can be traced back to the military, where it was first used to prepare for armed conflict. It was later adopted by businesses as a technique to prepare for future events, such as natural disasters, economic crises or other unpredictable events that might affect their operations.

Today, scenario planning is used in several industries, including business, government, and military. It is an essential tool for organizations that operate in rapidly changing environments.

Military Scenario Planning

The military scenario planning process involves creating future scenarios to prepare for potential conflict situations. Military scenario planning is essential for defense readiness and preparedness. It enables military personnel to anticipate various possible conflicts and plan accordingly.

Scenario Planning for the Twenty-first-Century Strategist

Scenario planning has evolved significantly since its inception. The process has gone from being used primarily in the military to being employed in other industries, including business and government. Today, scenario planners use a range of tools and techniques to develop future scenarios, including SWOT analyses, PESTLE analyses, and trend analysis, among others.


Environmental scanning and scenario planning are essential strategic planning tools that help organizations identify and prepare for potential threats and opportunities. By conducting an environmental scan, businesses can identify trends and analyze the competitive landscape. And through scenario planning, businesses can plan for future events and develop contingency plans. As a result, environmental scanning and scenario planning are valuable tools for businesses operating in today's rapidly changing market.