The diagram above looks at how organizations may choose to monitor the forces and trends acting on their interests. It can help you consider how you do environmental scanning, and how to make it more valuable to you and your colleagues. Most competent organizations do periodic scanning, formally or informally, but they often do it in a bounded way. They get the obvious periodic due diligence done or have an ongoing culture of monitoring. They catch up with and keep up with their industry or sector, or current markets. But they often miss the longer-term forces that will shape their futures, and don't get early notice of the more speculative or hidden things that may become critically important. It's better to include some stretch thinking–to at least periodically explore beyond the current view of what's happening and what's important. Even better, the culture of foresight approach covers good monitoring of the sector, the market, etc. and the due diligence you need, stretches thinking, but makes those things a continuous habit. That is probably critical to your organization's success, and can move you from reacting to change, to anticipating it and discovering new opportunities.
Update: Please see also this special page on environmental scanning.