Category Archives: strategy

Running into the Fog

I had the opportunity recently to connect with log-time friends and colleagues Arik and Derek Johnson from Aurora WDC for their new podcast “Running into the Fog.” The Brothers Johnson have done a great job opening up a series of conversations with leaders on deep topics. I’m sure they’ll explore great thoughts with other guests soon, and I’m honored to be their second guest on this podcast.

We had a broad-ranging conversation about competitive intelligence. I came out of the writing-a-book closet to reveal the small business Competitive Intelligence project I’ve got underway. We talked about industry-specific CI, how to identify and develop talent, and the relationship and overlap among tactics, strategy, and execution. We also discussed our experiences making sense in the early days of the Covid 19 pandemic, remember our last time together in person, and the best Star Wars movies and shows.

Please give this podcast a listen if you want to understand some recent, cutting-edge thinking about Competitive Intelligence in modern business. Give the entire series a listen if you want to explore emerging and challenging topics.

Getting started with STEEP analysis

Strategic analysts use STEEP to understand the complex interplay of forces over which they have no control:

  • Reduce the risk of missing important details
  • Rethink issues based on a broad understanding of the big picture
  • Identify the factors that explain events
  • Get beyond normative analysis and assumptions
  • Make sense of the overwhelming amount of information and data
  • Identify trends, uncertainties, and inflection points that will define the future

STEEP is an acronym and reflects the five meta-factors that define any situation:

S = Society
T = Technology
E = Economy
E = Environment
P = Politics

STEEP in interchangeable with other outside-in analytical models such as PESTLE (prevalent in the UK and takes a more detailed view of Law) and STEMPLE (prevalent among national security and military intelligence professionals and evaluates Military factors in detail). Analysts can adapt STEEP to add factors for more granular detail or demote factors that may not be relevant in a situation.

I will dive into STEEP in future posts:

  • Specifics of each factor
  • Standards of source reliability and data credibility
  • STEEP as a foundation for advanced analysis and problem-solving
  • Applying STEEP to current events and challenges analysts are dealing with today such as the Covid-19 pandemic


Making Sense of a Fast-Moving World Awash in Information with STEEP Analysis