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Phyllis T.H. Grummon, director of education and planning, Society for College and University Planning, shares a primer she has written for SCUP members on the basics of environmental scanning.

A Primer on Environmental Scanning in Higher Education (PDF), Planning for Higher Education (2013, v41n2).

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If you've ever wondered how I might go about constructed Trends to Watch in Higher Education, these are the steps I follow. I'd be delighted to learn how you engage in scanning....there is always something to learn.

Thank you for sharing, Phyllis.

I encourage everyone to join Scoop.it (using your email or LinkedIn account) and suggest links for SCUP Links Magazine: The inbox for SCUP's weekly environmental scan.... This platform is yet another way to identify and share trends in higher education. It's easy and collaborative. 

Phyllis, I wasn't aware until I saw your discussion note that your article was intended to describe the steps that you follow in constructing Trends to Watch that may also be helpful to other SCUP members if they wanted to set up a scanning system for themselves or for their offices. I certainly applaud this objective and would like to add several suggestions regarding setting up an institutional scanning system to support planning.

First, I have a somewhat different take on the use of scanning categories in setting up scanning systems. Certainly it is important to ensure that all sectors (e.g., social, technological, economic, environmental, and political) local through global are included in the scan. It is not particularly important to organize scans for each of the categories; it is critical to make sure that information resources in each of those STEEP categories are used in the scan.

Second, trends are important scanning elements, but we should also be alert for potential events that if they occur, would themselves affect the future of the institution. Trends and events are related, but they are also different. Futurists call them wildcards.

Third, if at all possible, it is important to include decision makers from all sectors of the institution in the scanning activity rather than have one person, or people in one office, conduct the scan. The more diverse the scanning team, the better.The  product is enriched via having different perspectives.

Finally, there is a tool that individuals or teams can use that is accessible everyone on the team 24/7: Zotero (http://www.zotero.org/). This free electronic bibliographic database program can allow planning teams to enter scanning data abstracts, complete articles, and note implications of the article for the institution. Moreover, any member of the team can add comments about the implications of the article. Having this information available on everyone's computer will facilitate periodic meetings focused on the importance of information produced by the team for the institution.

Phyllis, nice article on the complexities of scanning.  As I was reading, I thought about all that I scan-- some personal and some professional.  On the personal side I scan for everything from genealogy/family history stories (e.g. DNA), crazy pet stories (e.g. traveled 1000 miles to get home...my cat can't find the front door!) to women's issues of all kinds and religious issues such as the Pope resigning and child abuse in the church.  Like I said, a strange mix.  I vett these issues with "my round table" of my husband and daughter. :-)

Professionally, I scan for health sciences school design (we have it on our radar), learning space & outcomes (as you know), space management in general and the upzoning that is probably going to occur in South Lake Union (the area our research building are located. 

My scan is not academic in its approach but I was still surprised how similar it was to what you do to get the fabulous Trends out to the membership.  Thanks, Phyliss.

Thanks so much, Jim. SCUP adds in scenario planning as a tool to take environmental scanning to the next step in our integrated planning workshops; so I completely agree with your suggestions. In particular, wildcards are significant and, as you say, cannot be ignored. Knowing how to use your capacities to manage through them and maybe even come out ahead of the game, is what we all long for.

James Morrison said:

Phyllis, I wasn't aware until I saw your discussion note that your article was intended to describe the steps that you follow in constructing Trends to Watch that may also be helpful to other SCUP members if they wanted to set up a scanning system for themselves or for their offices. I certainly applaud this objective and would like to add several suggestions regarding setting up an institutional scanning system to support planning.

First, I have a somewhat different take on the use of scanning categories in setting up scanning systems. Certainly it is important to ensure that all sectors (e.g., social, technological, economic, environmental, and political) local through global are included in the scan. It is not particularly important to organize scans for each of the categories; it is critical to make sure that information resources in each of those STEEP categories are used in the scan.

Second, trends are important scanning elements, but we should also be alert for potential events that if they occur, would themselves affect the future of the institution. Trends and events are related, but they are also different. Futurists call them wildcards.

Third, if at all possible, it is important to include decision makers from all sectors of the institution in the scanning activity rather than have one person, or people in one office, conduct the scan. The more diverse the scanning team, the better.The  product is enriched via having different perspectives.

Finally, there is a tool that individuals or teams can use that is accessible everyone on the team 24/7: Zotero (http://www.zotero.org/). This free electronic bibliographic database program can allow planning teams to enter scanning data abstracts, complete articles, and note implications of the article for the institution. Moreover, any member of the team can add comments about the implications of the article. Having this information available on everyone's computer will facilitate periodic meetings focused on the importance of information produced by the team for the institution.

Thank you, Phyllis, this article will improve the quality of my scanning process which is not well developed at this point.  Your article has also given me the idea of using this on a yearly basis to update our Board of Trustees and not to just do so prior to a formalized strategic planning process.  Since we undergo strategic planning every four to five years, the cumulative yearly reports to the Board of Trustees will serve to further illuminate trends over the last five years.  

Phyllis Grummon said:

Thanks so much, Jim. SCUP adds in scenario planning as a tool to take environmental scanning to the next step in our integrated planning workshops; so I completely agree with your suggestions. In particular, wildcards are significant and, as you say, cannot be ignored. Knowing how to use your capacities to manage through them and maybe even come out ahead of the game, is what we all long for.

James Morrison said:

Phyllis, I wasn't aware until I saw your discussion note that your article was intended to describe the steps that you follow in constructing Trends to Watch that may also be helpful to other SCUP members if they wanted to set up a scanning system for themselves or for their offices. I certainly applaud this objective and would like to add several suggestions regarding setting up an institutional scanning system to support planning.

First, I have a somewhat different take on the use of scanning categories in setting up scanning systems. Certainly it is important to ensure that all sectors (e.g., social, technological, economic, environmental, and political) local through global are included in the scan. It is not particularly important to organize scans for each of the categories; it is critical to make sure that information resources in each of those STEEP categories are used in the scan.

Second, trends are important scanning elements, but we should also be alert for potential events that if they occur, would themselves affect the future of the institution. Trends and events are related, but they are also different. Futurists call them wildcards.

Third, if at all possible, it is important to include decision makers from all sectors of the institution in the scanning activity rather than have one person, or people in one office, conduct the scan. The more diverse the scanning team, the better.The  product is enriched via having different perspectives.

Finally, there is a tool that individuals or teams can use that is accessible everyone on the team 24/7: Zotero (http://www.zotero.org/). This free electronic bibliographic database program can allow planning teams to enter scanning data abstracts, complete articles, and note implications of the article for the institution. Moreover, any member of the team can add comments about the implications of the article. Having this information available on everyone's computer will facilitate periodic meetings focused on the importance of information produced by the team for the institution.

Hi James,

I appreciate your reply.  I was thinking that I know so little about IT trends but our CIO knows so much.  I think I will try to divide some of the scanning with those who would do a much better job than I would and probably do it as a natural part of their job.  Our CIO can do technology, out legislative liaison can do state politics, out HLC liaison can look for trends there, etc.  Thanks for the website, also!

Joan

James Morrison said:

Phyllis, I wasn't aware until I saw your discussion note that your article was intended to describe the steps that you follow in constructing Trends to Watch that may also be helpful to other SCUP members if they wanted to set up a scanning system for themselves or for their offices. I certainly applaud this objective and would like to add several suggestions regarding setting up an institutional scanning system to support planning.

First, I have a somewhat different take on the use of scanning categories in setting up scanning systems. Certainly it is important to ensure that all sectors (e.g., social, technological, economic, environmental, and political) local through global are included in the scan. It is not particularly important to organize scans for each of the categories; it is critical to make sure that information resources in each of those STEEP categories are used in the scan.

Second, trends are important scanning elements, but we should also be alert for potential events that if they occur, would themselves affect the future of the institution. Trends and events are related, but they are also different. Futurists call them wildcards.

Third, if at all possible, it is important to include decision makers from all sectors of the institution in the scanning activity rather than have one person, or people in one office, conduct the scan. The more diverse the scanning team, the better.The  product is enriched via having different perspectives.

Finally, there is a tool that individuals or teams can use that is accessible everyone on the team 24/7: Zotero (http://www.zotero.org/). This free electronic bibliographic database program can allow planning teams to enter scanning data abstracts, complete articles, and note implications of the article for the institution. Moreover, any member of the team can add comments about the implications of the article. Having this information available on everyone's computer will facilitate periodic meetings focused on the importance of information produced by the team for the institution.

Joan, it may be of value to review the sections on "developing strategic planning/foresight/anticipatory management capability" and "environmental scanning" on my workshops and seminars page (http://www.horizon.unc.edu/projects/seminars/index.html). Note that you can use any of the materials on this page as you wish for your program (just send me a note as to how you are using them). If you have any questions, please contact me (jlm@live.unc.edu).

What a plethora of information!  Thanks, James.

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