What’s new, pussycat?

The music industry was for some time in denial of the simple idea that fewer people are now interested in buying CDs if they can download tracks from the internet instead. They were late entrants into a field which could have netted them huge profits sooner, had they been prepared to accept that their business model was no longer working.  Instead, they made themselves unpopular by decrying piracy as people illicitly downloaded tracks from rogue file sharing websites, whilst lacking the foresight to set up something similar themselves.  Some years ago, Microsoft were late entrants into web-based society, not initially seeing the potential uses of the internet in their business.  Now we see cloud computing (itself simply a newly rehashed version of the old idea of workstations and file servers) threatening to replace desktop copies of application software and desktop data storage.

A great question for every business, regardless of size, is “Is my business model sustainable?”  If you continue to do what you have been doing to date, will your business survive?  Is there any danger that you have buried your head in the sand, ostrich-like, hoping that some new fad or fashion which might affect you will go away?  Is there something new on the horizon which could actually present you with a real opportunity.

The old PEST analysis model may seem hackneyed but it still has relevance.  In its latest incarnation, as a STEEPLE model, it can be even more useful if only as a checklist of the areas to which you need to pay attention to ensure that you are, as far as possible, predicting what may hit your business from the outside so you are prepared to manage it from the inside.

STEEPLE stands for:

  • Social
  • Technological
  • Economic
  • Environmental
  • Political
  • Legal
  • Ethical

The last word, “ethical,” is the new kid on the block and is not going to go away.  Whether you like it or not, corporate social responsibility isn’t just a flavour of the month and needs some attention now. It’s worth spending some time with your colleagues brainstorming everything you can think of which falls under each of these headings and  assessing the likely impact on your organisation.  Don’t worry unduly about sorting out your brainstormed ideas into neat categories; there’s lots of overlap between the STEEPLE categories and it’s purely there to kickstart your thinking.

When you’ve listed everything which may affect you, give it a weighting according to the level of risk it poses, assess when it may hit your business and consider the level of urgency you may need to apply in managing it.  Be searingly honest in your assessment of risk.

Now you have your weighted, risk-assessed list, revisit your strategy and judge whether you need to refine it to accommodate the findings of your STEEPLE analysis.  Remember that strategy is dynamic and at least viscose if not entirely fluid.

Now you can sleep a little easier, knowing that you have made the first steps towards embracing what’s new and what you can’t or shouldn’t avoid.  The next steps can be exciting, because they give you an opportunity to look at your business afresh and gauge with a little more certainty what you have to do to make it work and keep it working.

To discuss behavioural skills training, any other aspect of leadership and management development or business consultancy, call me on +44(0)161 929 4145 or email David Cotton.

I look forward to hearing from you.

David Cotton is an independent trainer, management consultant, facilitator and speaker with vast international experience.

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