Strategic early warning system

Strategic Early Warning System

Strategic early warning system

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The aim of an Strategic Early Warning System (SEWS) is to assist organizations in dealing with discontinuities or strategic “surprises”. By detecting “weak signals” (Igor Ansoff, 1975), which can be perceived as important discontinuities in an organizational environment, SEWS allows organizations to react strategically ahead of time.

Underlying theory

The underlying assumption of SEWS is that discontinuities do not emerge without warning. These warning signs can be described as “weak signals”. The concept of “weak signals” (Ansoff, 1975) aims at early detection of those signals which could lead to strategic surprises and to an event which has the potential to jeopardise an organization’s strategy. Furthermore, the concept of a SEWS is intended to constitute an important part of a strategic management system, operating real-time in an organization, and assisting in identifying the new, which emerges as “weak signals”.

Detecting “weak signals” is achieved by scanning the organizational environment. The concept of environmental scanning (Aguilar,1967) describes a process whereby the environment in which an organization operates is systematically scanned for relevant information. The purpose is to identify early signals of possible environmental change and to detect environmental change already underway.

The need for a formal strategic early warning process in organizations is based in large part on the existence of blindspots at their top, which...
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