Secrets of Situational Analysis Demystified

The consequences of trying to make progress without making sense of your surroundings

Every human has an intense need to know. People like to know where they stand in other people’s eyes. They like to know the progress they’re making or not making towards their goals. Everyone wants to understand the consequences of every situation they are involved with. And yet, most people don’t know and suffer the consequences.

Know Your Environment

In the absence of reliable information, speculation reigns. In the absence of answers, speculation accelerates.

When they don’t know the real information, people supply their own answers. In these instances, imagination can run rampant.

This is very fertile ground for a others to take advantage by planting false information. This is particularly true in today’s environment where information is very readily obtained.

Unfortunately both politicians and the media know this and exploit this to their advantage.

Just because information is readily available does not mean that it’s always reliable. In fact, it’s very availability makes it even more important that it’s reliability is thoroughly checked. You don’t want to let yourself become a victim to this false information. Particularly when it is connected to one’s need to know the risks accelerate.


Gather, sort, analyze and clarify all the data you need. Using technology for this process is called Business Intelligence (BI). It’s vital we utilize something like this technique. After that’s done, then is the right time to take action. Hopefully, the action you take after this process will be much more effective.

There are specific steps to take. Remember, your goal is not the data, but the meaning of it.

  1. Collect the data
  2. Organize the data
  3. Verify the data
  4. Analyze the data
  5. Distribute the data
  6. Take action

Gathering information.

Gather business data internally, externally and environmentally. Internally from employees and process evaluation at a minimum. Externally from vendors, customers and partners. Environmentally from trade associations, competitors, government, and even futurists.

Organizing the information.

Once all this information has been collected time to distill it to its most usable form. Intuitively you know all this data doesn’t have the same relative value. Your objective is to reduce the mass of data to its most usable format. So, you’ll want to combine, sort, rearrange, visualize and summarize the information into a manageable size and shape.

Verifying the information.

Although this may be self-explanatory it is on fortunately a step that often omitted. This does take considerable time and energy, but not doing so could be very hazardous.

Earlier in the article talked about the availability of data. Along with that availability comes unreliable. You’ll need to have at least two independently verifiable sources for each bit of data you decide to utilize.

My favorite president, Ronald Reagan, often said, “trust, but verify”. That is a must. You have to know, as best you can, what is going on around you. Many others will be delighted to have you simply go along with the crowd.
That may work great for them, but not for you.

Analyzing the information.

Next the information needs to be further growth fine considering it’s context, time, place, and relevance to your specific needs. The primary objective of this step is to reduce (not increase) the amount of information you will be dealing with. After you’ve completed that task, produce a written situational analysis.

Distribute the information.

Once you’ve completed the written analysis you’ll want to make certain that all the stakeholders are able to put the information to use. Get the analysis into the hands of all of them and ask for their editorial comments. All of these comments need to be added to the analysis.

Execute on the information.

At the conclusion of the previous six steps it’s time to take action. Provided you’ve done a quality job in the gathering, sorting and analysis the action that will be taken as a result should be of a much higher and more productive quality.

The current year will be one of the most important times in business to have quality information and its analysis prior to making any decisions and taking a meaningful action.