Traditionally, environmental scanning has been implemented mainly with the use of conventional methods, including marketing research, economic indicators, demand forecasting, and industry studies. But the use of such conventional techniques for environmental scanning is not without pitfalls. These techniques have failed to provide reliable insights into the future. Discussed below are a variety of new techniques that have been adapted for use in environmental scanning.
These procedures require the use of information from the past to explore the future. Obviously, their use assumes that the future is some function of the past. There are a variety of extrapolation procedures that range from a simple estimate of the future (based on past information) to regression analysis.
Where past data cannot be used to scan an environmental phenomenon, the phenomenon may be studied by establishing historical parallels with other phenomena. Assumed here is the availability of sufficient information on other phenomena. Turning points in the progression of these phenomena become guideposts for predicting the behavior of the phenomenon under study.
This technique bases the future on the "rational feel" of the scanner. Intuitive reasoning requires free thinking unconstrained by past experience and personal biases. This technique, therefore, may provide better results when used by freelance think tanks than when used by managers on the job.
This technique calls for developing a time-ordered sequence of events bearing a logical cause-and-effect relationship to one another. The ultimate forecast is based on multiple contingencies, each with its respective probability of occurrence.
When two different trends in the environment point toward conflicting futures, this technique may be used to study these trends simultaneously for their effect. As the name implies, this technique uses a two-dimensional matrix, arraying one trend along the rows and the other along the columns.
Some of the features of cross-impact analyses that make them attractive for strategic planning are that (a) they can accommodate all types of eventualities (social or technological, quantitative or qualitative, and binary events or continuous functions), (b) they rapidly discriminate important from unimportant sequences of developments, and (c) their underlying rationale is fully retraceable from the analysis.
This technique requires identification of all possible ways to achieve an objective. For example, the technique can be employed to anticipate innovations and to develop optimum configurations for a particular mission or task.
There are two types of network methods: contingency trees and relevance trees. A contingency tree is simply a graphical display of logical relationships among environmental trends that focuses on branch-points where several alternative outcomes are possible. A relevance tree is a logical network similar to a contingency tree but is drawn in a way that assigns degrees of importance to various environmental trends with reference to an outcome.
Missing-Link The missing-link approach combines morphological analysis and the network Approach method. Many developments and innovations that appear promising and marketable may be held back because something is missing. Under these circumstances, this technique may be used to scan new trends to see if they provide answers to any missing links.
This technique emphasizes the construction of models following deductive or inductive procedures. Two types of models may be constructed: phenomenologi-cal models and analytic models. Phenomenological models identify trends as a basis for prediction but make no attempt to explain underlying causes. Analytic models seek to identify underlying causes of change so that future developments may be forecast on the basis of a knowledge of their causes.
The delphi technique is the systematic solicitation of expert opinion. Based on reiteration and feedback, this technique gathers opinions of a panel of experts on happenings in the environment.
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