STEEP identifies the key emerging external forces for change that can have real influence over how the future develops and its effect on your organization.

Uses of the method

  • Analyzing potential positive and negative future changes
  • As a taxonomical analysis of change
  • Ensuring broad consideration of emerging change


  • Opens up discussion of external drivers effecting an organization
  • Introduces appreciation of complex systems thinking and linkages
  • Can ensure all key elements of change considered
  • Quick and cheap to do


  • Can be superficial if limited attention given
  • Overly broad - human systems blur boundaries
  • STEEP views change from the point of origin

Steps to complete

  • Define the issue
  • Brainstorm listings of emerging changes sorting issues between the STEEP categories (Social, Technological, Economic, Environmental, Political). Look for and list - How might our homes & families change? How might our work change? How might our hobbies & leisure differ? How might we travel & communicate? How might childhood & education differ? How might our environment change? How might government & economy differ?
  • Assess potential impacts of the issues on your organization and separate your answers in each STEEP category between macro (structural forces), micro (shifts in values and attitudes) and meso (shifts in social or group behaviour).
  • Ensure that you have correctly identified driving forces in each STEEP category and at a macro, micro, or meso level.  Leave no blanks in your analysis or be sure you have properly considered every possibility of emerging change.
  • Identify knowledge gaps and areas of greatest impact
  • Determine if the knowledge gaps require further Insights research
  • Capture your most exciting idea and biggest fear.
  • Determine the predetermined elements (almost certain hard trends) that will inform your strategic response: slow-changing phenomena e.g. demographic shifts, constrained situations e.g. resource limits, in the pipeline e.g. aging of baby boomers, inevitable collisions e.g. climate change arguments.
  • Capture critical uncertainties i.e. variables, soft trends and potential surprises. Both these and the predetermined elements will be key to creating scenarios and examining potential future paradigm shifts.
  • Capture unique insight into new ways of seeing that can be utilized by the organization.
  • State alternative hypotheses drawn with different assumptions and judgments.
  • Consider what factors would likely change your mind through receipt of new information.
  • Determine which factors could surprise and alter your judgment and the direction of the outcome.
  • What conclusions can we draw from the exercise(s)?
    • How might the future be different?
    • How does A affect B?
    • What is likely to remain the same or change significantly?
    • What are the likely outcomes?
    • What and who will likely shape our future?
    • Where could we be most affected by change?
    • What might we do about it?
    • What don't we know that we need to know?
    • What should we do now, today?
    • Why do we care?
    • When should we aim to meet on this?

This method and your response can be shared with other members or kept private using the 'Privacy' field and through the 'Tag', 'Report' and 'Forum' functionalities. Use 'Tag' and/or 'Report' to aggregate your analyzes, or add a 'Forum' to ask others where they agree/disagree and encourage them to make their own analysis from their unique vantage point.

Click the 'Invite tab to send invitations to other members or non-members (colleagues, external experts etc.) to ask for their input. You can whether or not you want anonymous responses.  These can be viewed and exported within the Responses tab..

Further reference

Contact us
Even with all the advice and tools we have provided here starting a foresight project from scratch can be a daunting prospect to a beginner. Let us know if you need help with this method or want a group facilitation exercise or full project or program carrying out by us. We promise to leave behind more internal knowledgeable people who can expand your initiative for better organizational performance.

Contact us today for a free discussion on your needs.

Are there other enhancements or new methods you would like to see here? Let us know and we will do our best to respond with a solution quickly.

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