Map strategic drivers

The first step of strategic analysis is to open up your thinking about the external environment and the numerous drivers and influences at play out there. 

Given that the external environment is in a state of constant change it makes sense to make thinking about strategic drivers an ongoing task.  If you are able to do this, it won’t be too onerous to analyse it when you come to develop the strategy or update the plan.

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PEST is a widely used mnemonic that’s been designed to help us remember the key categories or headings used when carrying out strategic analysis:

  • political
  • economic
  • social
  • technological

...factors in the external environment.  Sometimes it’s represented as PESTEL (the L and the E stand for legal and environmental); or STEEPLE (same as PESTEL with the addition of ethical). 

Getting started

Has your organisation done a PEST analysis recently? Why not dig it out and remind yourself of what it included.

Browse through the drivers on this website.  These are also organised into PEST categories. Which of these might be relevant to your organisation?

If you register as a member of this website (free and quick) you can begin to save the interesting ones to your own profile page.

PEST thumbnail Download the PEST worksheet

Try pulling a group together to help you do this.  If you can get a mix of people you will find that different perspectives can create something really valuable.  Include some of your beneficiaries if you can; people who can inspire and give a fresh perspective.

Next steps

Broaden your list of drivers by thinking about the drivers that impact on:

  • Your organisation
  • Your strategic group
    (Organisations with which you share a common set of characteristics, not shared by others)
  • Your specialist sector
  • The voluntary and community sector

Are there useful sites that you use to keep up to date with developments in your local area or in your specialist sector?  If so, you could also upload these to your profile.

Other members of this website may work in similar fields or in your local area and have interesting ideas to share about drivers that could impact on your work.  Browse the members list and see.  You can see what they've saved on their home page or send them a private message.

In depth

As you scan the list of drivers that you’ve developed, seek out relationships between different ones.  If drivers are linked, then you need to think laterally to draw in all those that may be relevant.  The drivers on this website include links to related drivers.

Consider the less obvious drivers.  Many of the drivers on this website may not seem immediately relevant (e.g. attitudes towards immigrants, or the focus on well-being).  Their impact may be less direct; think laterally to consider potentially profound long term implications

For a detailed guide to mapping strategic drivers, complete with practical exercises and case examples, read our guide to understanding the external environment, Looking Out! (published by NCVO)

The next stage of strategic analysis is sorting drivers into the vital, the important and the interesting.

Last updated at 09:30 Fri 26/Jun/09.