The Importance of Environmental Scanning: A Dose of Daily Drucker

by Michael Haberman on March 3, 2008 · 0 comments


I read alot. I get alot of newsletters. I read several blogs on a daily basis. I get alerts from the Feds, SHRM, and several other organizations. I think it is important to know what is going on in the world. It helps me make informed decisions in my daily business as well as in my daily life. SHRM calls that “environmental scanning” and in the material it puts out for PHR and SPHR education it stresses that this is a skill that is important for the strategic HR leader. I agree and in the classes I teach I try to stress how important it is. Many times I skeptical looks and under-the-breath comments about “not having the time.”

Today’s entry from “The Daily Drucker” lends some credence to my emphasis and personal actions. According to Drucker, “The technologies that are likely to have the greatest impact on a company and an industry are technologies outside its own field.” It goes further by saying “Many changes that have transformed enterprises have originated outside the specific industry of that enterprise.” He gives several examples, such as the zipper, which had a major impact on the clothing industry was originally for closing bales of heavy goods. No one ever thought it would replace buttons.

By extension we can apply this principle to human resources. The changes that will have major effects on how we deal with people will come from outside the field of HR. It will be social trends, legal trends, technology trends, economic trends, political trends, educational trends, etc. If you are not monitoring these on a regular basis you will have no opportunity to prepare to deal with changes. As usual you will be left to be reactive (the bane of HR) and executive management in your company will continue to see you as the “file cabinet.”

So invest some time each workweek to read outside of HR. Review newsletters, blogs (see my list of favorites), magazines, technology items and social happenings to be alert. Take a look at The Futurist, Wired, The Economist, Freakonomics, and more.

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Anonymous March 4, 2008 at 4:03 pm

Sometimes it is difficult to find time for reading material about your industry when you have a job. I try to prioritize it though, in including it as part of my job. I began with allocating 20 minutes per work day (towards the end of my lunch break) and an hour on weekends. So far, I have found it helpful in my day to day work as it keeps me up to date with inductry happenings and I have been able to bring ideas to my colleagues.

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