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    I need to write a paper on the following topics, and any insight into these would be appreciated.

    a. What is the importance and effectiveness of environmental scanning, strategy formulation and choice, and the formulation of action plans and goals?
    b. What concepts and analytic tools are available to use in the development of a strategic plan?
    c. What are some of the challenges facing strategic planners?

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    Environmental scanning is the exploration phase of a strategic planning process. For our purposes, it is a systematic process the intent of which is to identify potential program opportunities. The terminology and methodology of environmental scanning are from the strategic planning literature. The techniques included are consistent with current total quality management and "learning organization" approaches. Strategic planning strives to identify the best fit between an organization and its external environment and is conducted assuming the need for continuous improvement of programs. The scanning process results in preliminary information needed to select those priority issues for which specific plans will be developed.

    Objectives of Environmental Scanning
    § detecting important economic, social, cultural, environmental, health, technological, and political trends, situations, and events
    § identifying the potential opportunities and threats for the institution implied by these trends, situations, and events
    § gaining an accurate understanding of your organization's strengths and limitations
    § providing a basis for analysis of future program investments
    components include
    § summary and analysis of economic, social, cultural, environmental, health, technological, and political data pertinent to the topic/area
    § information collected from external public and private organizations and agencies on issues involved with the topic or area
    § information from existing and potential stakeholders re interests, needs, opportunities, and potential collaborative
    § assessment of your organization's current program direction, capabilities, and opportunities
    Scanning methods
    Diverse methods are used to collect scanning information. Typical approaches include:
    § accessing networks - agencies and organizations, personal contacts (yours and others)
    § collecting reports, plans, program descriptions, etc.
    § field trips, "windshield surveys" and other forms of observation
    § photo documentation
    § media monitoring
    § public meetings; community fora
    § focus groups
    § participant action approaches
    § key "informant" surveys
    § issues-oriented surveys
    § Delphi process
    § public opinion poles
    § anecdotes and case studies
    § oral histories
    § futuring exercises
    § visualization processes - flow charts, trend diagrams, time lines, etc.
    § organization "health check" etc.

    Strategic choice is the most important element of the strategy formulation process.
    Choice is ...