Adaptive - Horizon Scanning


  • futureSME tools for Horizon Scanning

  • What is it?

    Horizon scanning is the continuous process of gathering information about customers, suppliers, competitors, society, technology, and so on, and using this information to make informed decisions about your business. Horizon scanning involves deciding:

    • Which parts of the business environment to scan for information
    • Where and how often to gather the information
    • Who will gather the information

  • Why is it important?

    If a business fails to look to its external environment, it is operating with its eyes closed. It will be unaware of changes in customer preferences or habits. It will miss opportunities to gain market share or to move into new markets. It may be damaged by a new competitor it did not anticipate, or it may be unsure how to improve its efficiencies because it is unaware of relevant technologies or processes. In short, horizon scanning is essential, not only to grow, but to survive. Horizon scanning is also the first step in the strategy process.

  • How do I use it in my business?

    The horizon scanning process can be a formal, documented and tightly controlled series of steps or it can be managed informally, provided those involved understand what they are doing and why. The important thing is that it is continuous. It is not a one-off exercise completed before an annual strategy meeting. The business environment is constantly changing and you need to know about it! 

    The steps involved in horizon scanning are:

    Resources Step 1

    Organise and Lead.
    Create a scanning team, allocate space for information capture, organise an initial brainstorming session and outline your business vision.

    Resources Step 2

    Scope.
    Identify key areas in your business environment, identify information sources and assign scanning tasks and frequencies.

    Resources Step 3

    Scan.
    Gather information and communicate it to the relevant people.

    Resources Step 4

    Analyse.
    Organise a weekly meeting, discuss your findings, record relevant information and archive insignificant information.

    Resources Step 5

    Review.
    Discuss your scanning process and scope. Continue to scan or repeat Step 2.

    Click the links under "futureSME tools for Horizon Scanning" to download the entire process methodology.


Why is it important to scan the horizon?