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Strategic Trends 2018

a PEST or PESTLE analysis tool.

Up-to-date research on strategic trends:

Political, social, economic, technological and business trends.

This article describes how to use strategic trends in a business strategic planning process

To go to the strategic trends tool, click the button below.

This strategic trends research is updated regularly.

Why trends are important
to strategic leaders.

Strategic leaders use trends to understand and prepare for the future.

Strategic trends are used to:

  • Develop strategic plans as part of a business strategic planning process.
  • Develop plans as part of any organisation's long term strategy.
  • Identify new business opportunities.
  • Develop strategies to achieve business targets
  • Identify new markets.
  • Help teams to recognize the need for change.
  • Encourage innovation in teams. Get people to 'think outside of the box.'
  • Identify new paradigms that may change the way business is done in an industry.
  • Add richness to a SWOT analysis. Provide information that can be used to identify new opportunities and threats.
  • Develop scenarios of the future.

What is a PEST or PESTLE analysis?


A PEST analysis involves researching up to date trends in specific categories such as:

  • Political trends.
  • Economic trends.
  • Social trends.
  • Technological trends.

A PESTLE analysis adds in legal and environmental trends.

Whether you do a PEST, a PESTLE or a trend analysis, you identify strategic trends. These trends are then used to identify opportunities and threats to the organization, or to identify new markets and innovative products and services to offer customers.

What is a scenario?

A scenario is a photograph that shows how the trends of today may develop in the future. Organizations use scenarios to identify new rules they may need to follow to be successful within that future.

What can happen if you don't use strategic trends when planning for the future.

The highlight of any strategic planning retreat is when groups use strategic trends to identify new opportunities for their organization.

When they see the new possibilities available to them, they become excited about the future. This is the turning point of any strategy conference.

  • The world outside of the organization may change without you knowing. The rules for being successful as an organization may change.
  • Your organization may become less competitive and less successful than it used to be - as it tries to compete by doing what it has always done in the past.
  • New competitors from outside the industry may steal your market without you being aware of the threat.
  • You may miss out on an important trend, that may harm your organization.
  • You may miss out on new opportunities caused by shifts in trends.

7 steps to identify strategic trends to use in your planning.

  1. Read. Read magazines, newspapers, and web documents that contain up to date facts or statistics in a broad range of topics. Politics. Economics. Technology. Business. Societal.
  2. Select a group of topics that are relevant to organizational strategy and innovation.
  3. Research these topics further. Find credible sources that provide well researched facts and statistics rather than those that offer opinions. To do this well can take 3 to 6 months.
  4. Test your facts. Compare the information from different sources. Find information that comes from a number of credible sources.
  5. Construct the trend. Write out the facts you can trust. Look for gaps in your information and research these gaps further.
  6. Create a set of trends that cover most of the issues that could impact on the future success of an organization.
  7. Package the trends in a way that your leaders will find easy to read and use.

Or simply use our Strategic Trends Tool.

Use our easy to use Strategic Trends Tool. This provides a set of well researched, up to date strategic trends arranged in an easy to use, easy to filter pin-board.

Our trends are updated annually and can be used for strategic planning workshops, scenario development, SWOT analyses or PEST or PESTLE analyses.

What is the Strategic Trends tool?

The strategic trends tool consists of a pin board of strategic trends cards which can be filtered according to various categories (Business, Economic, Political, Social and Technology). The pin board shows summaries of the trend cards.

strategic trends tool

Click on a trend card summary and it will open the strategic trend card. This provides the latest research on that trend. It also provides links to additional reference material.

trend card


Collect your favorite trend cards on your own personal Strategic Trends Pin Board. At the bottom of each card is a pin it button. Simply click the "Pin this" button to pin the trend cards you want to work with further.

trend card

Then, on a new browser page, click on the blue member's button, and choose the Strategic Trends Pin-board. This contains you own collection of trend cards.

trend card

Only the cards you selected and pinned will appear on your personal Strategic Trends Pin-board.

trend pinboard

You can now work with this smaller selection of trends - adding your own notes. For example you can get creative about the opportunities that each trend provides to your organization. Or how you think these trends will impact on your organization in the future. Simply click on the edit button. Then type your ideas and press save. If you are in a workshop, then get the leader of each group to record and save the group's ideas.


arrow trend card edit


You can also group a number of related trend cards into a trend group.

You can produce a summary report of the trends you have chosen to focus on. Simply click the 'Strategic Trends Report button' and you will get a report summarizing the trends you pinned, including the notes you made for each trend. The report will show your groups of related trends.

You can also select the report and copy and paste this into a Word document. You can insert this information into a strategy document. This will save you a lot of time documenting trends and opportunities.

arrow strategic trends report

If you are facilitating a workshop on strategic planning, business development or innovation, use our OD intervention on how to develop opportunities from trends.

What this gold premium tool provides that you can't get from anywhere else.

  • Up to date research on trends that can be used for strategic planning, strategy retreats, scenario development, and SWOT analyses.
  • Research that will stimulate out-of-the-box thinking in innovation or business development workshops.
  • Attractive on-line trend cards that contain both up to date research, and images designed to help stimulate creative strategic thinking.
  • An on-line tool that delegates at strategic planning retreats can easily use, to identify new trends, identify threats to the organization and create new opportunities.
  • A quick way of finding and filtering macro-environmental or PEST trends relevant to your own organization.
  • An innovative workshop tool that allows delegates to analyse and record the impact each trend will have on their organization - whether it is an opportunity or threat. They can save their ideas quickly on-line on their own trends pin board.
  • A time saving workshop tool. Delegates can print out a summary page of the trends they have selected, and the notes they made on how these trends will impact on their organization, quickly and easily.

5 reasons to use Change Designs Strategic Trends tool.

1. Help your team think like geniuses

Geniuses like Einstein used visual thinking to solve complex problems. Our strategic trends cards taps into this powerful style of thinking. The images make it easy for a group to create new opportunities, markets, products or services for their organisation. They then use the detailed research on the cards to flesh out their ideas.

2. Make trends exciting.

Strategists know that shifting trends are a breeding ground for new opportunities. Yet most people switch off when listening to presentations on trends. But by using our Strategic Trends on-line cards, people get switched on. The images stimulate their imagination. They get excited about using filters to search for what they want. They happily educate themselves on the latest trends. As they look at the images, and read the research on the trend cards, they begin an animated discussion on how to create new opportunities for the organisation.

3. Save time. Keep it simple.

If you believe in the principle of “less is more” then you will appreciate using attractive, easy to use trend cards and pin boards. While we spent 4 months and read over 1000 articles, papers magazines and policy documents to create this tool, your team can focus on simply using the results of our hard work in a two hour workshop session.

4. Get new trends to challenge your paradigms.

Whenever you hear “We need out of the box thinking” or “we need to find a new way, or a new market”, then use our trend cards to help your team to discover the new paradigms that are driving future success in your industry. Psychologists have pointed out that we tend to fall into ruts that limit our thinking. So even if you do your own research, use our Strategic Trends tool to ensure you haven’t overlooked important new strategic trends.

5. Easy facilitation. Powerful results

Whether you are facilitating a strategic planning, innovation or business development workshop, or you are training your leaders on PEST, PESTLE, trend analysis or scenario development; our Global Strategic Trends cards makes your job as a facilitator easy. The tool does all the ‘painstaking’ work, so you can focus on what a facilitator does best – encouraging your teams to come up with creative ideas to make your organisation more successful.

Examples of strategic topics covered in a trends, a PEST or PESTLE analysis.


  • Structural shifts in the global economy.
  • Legislation.
  • Political power blocs.


  • Population demographics.
  • Energy.
  • Water.
  • Employment and unemployment.
  • Food.

Economic trends:

  • Economic growth areas.
  • Trading blocs.
  • Trade and investments.
  • Infrastructural spending.
  • Where governments and businesses are investing.


  • Technological innovations.
  • How technology is being used for communication, marketing and distribution.
  • How technology is being used to transform products and services of organizations.
  • How technology is changing the rules of success within industries.


  • Ways businesses relate to their customers, suppliers and the societies within which they operate.
  • The changing focus of successful businesses.
  • Systems, processes and technologies used by successful organizations.

This strategic trends tool is a critical part of any strategic planning process. It provides a powerful way to identify the opportunities and threats in any SWOT analysis. It stimulates creative thinking by using PEST or PESTLE trends. It helps provide a basis for scenario planning, and helps people identify strategic shifts that could change the nature of their industry or business.

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