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Friday, April 29, 2005

Dave Pollard On Continual Environment Scan

Continuous Environmental Scan is about using modern technology's radar to harvest a lot of ideas about what is happening in the world in interested areas (geographical, intellectual, or commercial). The best manifestation of this is the RSS Aggregator,allowing one to "subscribe" to newsfeeds, weblogs, newsletters and additions to websites, and have all the content appear on a single, continuously updated, page. Another approach to doing this are through Alerts or Profiles, which allow you to register keywords with a search engine and get daily e-mails sent to you of all news items and new articles containing those keywords.To set up a comprehensive Continuous Environmental Scan, Dave recommends that it needs time, money and lots of hard work. He describes a nine-step process that he evolved to do this that includes the like of:

1.Determine Your Information Universe: Spend some time (and brainstorm with others) to identify the universe of different sources you want your Scan 'radar' to capture. Note that Google News doesn't capture all news sources, and most other news aggregators capture only a very few select media sources. Some useful sources may not be available online, and others are only available for a fee.
2.Discover Infomediaries: Find ways of working with others who are already aggegrating some of the interested content. Trade and industry associations often present relevant news on their websites and newsletters. There are many specialized bloggers. There are some excellent cross-disciplinary e-newsletters out there as
3.Tap Into the Stuff Inside Your Organization: If you have tech-savvy staff with a lot of material on hard drives, consider setting up 'public partitions' on each employee's hard drive that can be canvassed and archived by the Intranet and made available to others. Consider setting up, and tapping into, employee weblogs.
4.Add Together, Stir and Sift: Now you have all the content for the top of the funnel. The next step is to filter it. How you do that will depend on the format it is in and the tools at your disposal. If there is an RSS feed of the source, use it to capture the whole feed, then use keyword searches to filter just the articles you want to read. Keyword filtering takes skill and practice: Learn to use phrases and boolean symbols to eliminate 'false positives'.
5.Add Value: Often your context-rich interpretation of 'what it means' or 'what it could mean', can be more valuable than the article itself. Putting down your analysis, interpretations and insights can not only make it more valuable for others, it can help 'make sense' of it in your own mind.
6.Don't Forget Serendipitous Reading: Sometimes important ideas and disruptive innovations just come out of left field.. Use the reading time to read selected magazines that cast a wide net, make you think, and focus on what's next and what you can do about it, rather than just rehashing useless news.

Dave emphasises there's no set way to acheive this -concludes,it takes a lot of practice. Many large organizations are doing virtually nothing to make use of the immense amounts of interesting and useful information 'out there' in a disciplined and organized manner. It's left up to the individual, and most individuals have neither the time nor the skill to do it. It's a missed opportunity in many companies, and perhaps one of the reason for the dearth of innovation in our world today.

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Sadagopan's Weblog on Emerging Technologies, Trends,Thoughts, Ideas & Cyberworld
"All views expressed are my personal views are not related in any way to my employer"