Context of the Organization – External Issues

external influencesContext of the Organization – External Issues

External Issues Relationship to the Company Scope

The scope of the company explains what the company does and doesn’t do. If it is a steel stamping shop it is unlikely the company also makes cotton candy. If you manufacture parts for a specific industry, your company may not do any design and development. Scope talks about what products and services the company provides. Internal issues are within the company’s control. External issues are usually outside the company’s control. With external issues all the company can do is monitor and react, it cannot control the issues.

External Issues Models

Models used in strategic planning or market research are useful in identifying external issues. There are a large number of models available. One that is effective is PESTEL but any model that allows the company to identify external issues and define how to monitor and react to them can be used.

External Issues Using PESTEL

PESTEL stands for

  • Political – taxes, tariffs, labor laws, trade restriction
  • Economic – economic growth, interest rates, exchange rates, inflation
  • Social – population growth, age distribution, attitudes toward careers and minorities, safety concerns
  • Technological – R&D activity, automation, rate of change, production efficiency
  • Environmental – weather, climate
  • Legal – discrimination, consumer, employment, health and safety, consumer law

Risks and Opportunities with External Issues

The following table shows some examples of an issue, a single concern, the potential risks and opportunities and a method of monitoring them. Most companies will have multiple concerns for each issue.

Issue Concern Risk Opportunity Monitor
Political Tariffs Reduces ability to export Reduces external competition Monitor USITC
Economic Interest rates Limit capital availability Increase capital availability Meet with bank quarterly
Social Aging population Smaller workforce Increased demand for certain products Strategic planning and Annual Management review
Technological Changing markets No demand for current products Large demand for innovation Industry specific information sources
Environmental New laws Require investment Provide new markets Monitor EPA regulations quarterly
Legal Consumer laws Increased cost to manufacture Limits new competition Set google alerts
Style Communication Poor Excellent In-process errors


Conclusion – External Issues

The risks and opportunities of external issues can be handled in a very similar manner to internal issues. A key difference between the two is how much control the company has. With internal issues the company management should be able to evaluate and adjust to influence or change the outcome. With external issues the company can only react to the issues.

By looking at the Interested Parties, Internal Issues and External Issues a company can have a better understanding of the business risks and opportunities. With this information they can select a strategic plan which best directs the company to obtain a long-term goal of profitability and longevity.


Point 13 -Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks – Encourage Education


Old dogs like to learn new tricks

If you stop training with the basics you will get a bored and desctructive dog and employee

Encourage education

Institute a vigorous program of education, and encourage self improvement for everyone. What an organization needs is not just good people; it needs people that are improving with education. Advances in competitive position will have their roots in knowledge.

Dr.W. Edwards Deming

Education the antidote to boredom

One of the interesting things I love about training in German Shepherds is they love to learn. It takes about two years to get one to search ready status but that
is only the begin. If you try to stop there, you will get a bored and probably
destructive dog. Instead we train new skills; air scent, then tracking,
obstacles, human remains, evidence articles, the list is as long as your imagination. The dogs love it and the benefit to the search team is a strong and capable canine with the ability to always get the job done no matter what the job is.

People aren’t that much different. Someone who does the same tasks year after year without change can get bored and stale. Providing regular and varied education keeps a person’s mindsharp. When it comes time for someone to come up with a new idea the person who you trained will most likely be the one to come up with the answer.

Encourage Education in the Hourly Workforce

  My first job as a production supervisor was an education in itself. I had one employee that was intelligent and articulate but kept making serious mistakes. This was a person I wanted to promote and instead I was regularly writing up violations for the silliest of mistakes. It was coming to the point where I was going to have to terminate this individual. As I reviewed his personnel file, I found a note he had written giving a friend permission to pick up the employee’s paycheck. I started to see a glimmer of the problem. The next day I had the man read a procedure and sign off that he had read and understood it. He made a good show of taking time on each page and flipping pages. As he tried to make his exit from my office, I had him sit down and we discussed the procedure. It didn’t take long for us both to know he couldn’t read. I got him signed up with literacy volunteers and it wasn’t long before the problems we had been experiencing went away. Encouraging education made the difference for both the employee and the company.

Encourage Education in the Salaried Workforce

As a person gains experience, it can be difficult to find courses being offered in their field where they should be the student. In more than a few cases, I’ve taken courses where the professor posted their credentials and I realized my credentials were better. I could leave and demand my money back or I could sit there and listen. When I have chosen to sit and listen, I generally find a kernel of wisdom I hadn’t thought of. It generates a whole new train of thought that just may solve a problem I’ve been working on. I also started studying Spanish, I don’t think translators jobs are in jeopardy but thinking in a new language helps me come up with a new perspective. Encourage education for both your employees and yourselfto reap long term benefits.

ISO 14000 – Green Grants for Business

ISO 14000 can bring in Green Grants for Business

ISO 14000

Endangered Species Recovering

Green seems to be the new buzzword, unfortunately overuse may do more harm than good and some of the frustration is spilling on ISO 14000. In the current economic climate business owners are looking for a balance between being a good environmental citizen and the bottom line.

They do not need to be beat over the head about their energy consumption or what their company generates. Business owners are people who are well aware of their responsibilities and the impact on themselves and their families. However they are also aware of the immediate impact on themselves and their employees if they go out of business trying to protect the environment.

One of the Benefits of ISO 14000 – Business Grants

The ultimate goal of ISO 14000 is to reduce the consumption of materials and energy, and reduce or eliminate the generation of pollution. If the company can make the same product with less materials and/or energy then there will be a positive impact on the bottom line. Therefore, the proper implementation of ISO 14000 ends up being a good business decision.

The first step in ISO 14000 is to benchmark current consumption. The second step is to identify how to reduce this consumption and/or carbon footprint. The third step is to implement this reduction. This is where companies can run into capital problems. It is not unusual for the requirement of a large influx of capital in order to make a positive change in the company’s environmental impact. Here are some sites to look at for grant information:

Business Grants to Go Green  – ISO 14000 Can Help

You may qualify for a grant of up to $5000 without first having to identify what your current consumption rate through Commonwealth Edison. Most of these grants deal with changing out to compact fluorescent lighting or the use of LEDs and exit signs. Check with on website www. AC for more details on these grants.

All other grants will require the company to identify their current consumption. This is where IS0 14000 becomes a benefit to the company. ISO 14000 implementation set up systems to that mark our current consumption and waste. This documentation gives a company an advantage when applying for grants. For this reason alone, ISO 14000 becomes a smart business decision as well as going green.