In an increasingly complex business environment, companies need to reassess their strategic choices on a regular basis. However, companies are struggling to collect and efficiently interpret the relevant information on their business environment. Whereas market information is often analyzed, influences from the broader environment (e.g., society) are often neglected. This paper argues that companies often lack a systemic approach to their strategy development process, and that environmental influences are only considered selectively. We suggest that companies themselves need to be seen as systems that are embedded in a complex environment. To develop a successful strategic orientation, a systematic screening of the environment must be coupled with a thorough analysis of the firm’s internal circumstances (e.g., competencies). Therefore, the paper proposes a holistic framework for conceiving companies as systems. Furthermore, we discuss how the scenario technique could support a systematic analysis of the company’s environment. The paper also aims to provide practical guidelines for managers and contributes to integrating a systems thinking approach into strategy development.
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