Knowing how to recognize weak signals of change—indications that changes may be taking place in milieus (e.g., social, political) that surround your business—will help your startup proactively adjust its strategy in view of these potential disruptions.
As a business decision-maker, identifying early signs of potentially disruptive change enables you to anticipate and adjust your strategic plans, rather than having to rush to react.
Weak signals that may initially be seen as a threat can transform into an opportunity to secure an advantaged position in the long term.
When you start scanning for weak signals of change, refer to the STEEP framework (below), which will help ensure you capture a wide breadth of signals. STEEP stands for social, technological, economic, environmental and political.
The social realm concerns what people do, say and feel, as well as their values, beliefs and opinions. Consider looking at:
The technological domain focuses on scientific progress and innovation. Consider looking at patent filings, requests for proposals (RFPs), startup activity and scientific journals.
The economic domain centres around “the economy” as well as commercial activity in general. Consider looking at:
The environmental realm concerns the condition of the natural world, resource availability and waste streams, the risk and impact of natural disasters, and ecological and geological systems. Consider looking at:
The political domain has to do with governments and legislation. Consider looking at:
Keep in mind that the STEEP categories are collectively exhaustive, not mutually exclusive. Weak signals don’t usually fit neatly into one category. The point of this framework is simply to nudge you to cover your bases with a balanced variety of signals.