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You need a PESTLE in your life.

Updated: Feb 15



Perhaps we should start by explaining what we’re talking about.



Not this.

We haven’t turned this into a cooking blog.


For those who haven’t seen it before, PESTLE is an acronym for an analysis process. It stands for:

P - Political

E - Economic

S - Social

T - Technological

L - Legal

E - Environmental


It’s a way to make sure you consider all the factors that could impact a business. You can use it in conjunction with the more common SWOT analysis to create a very comprehensive picture of the state of a business.


I want to talk about using this in a slightly different way. In an earlier post, I wrote about the need for teams to collaborate rather than cooperate. A big part of that is communication and fully understanding a situation. We can use PESTLE to do that, with a few minor tweaks.

In fact, while you can use this for any interaction with people, its real power is for leadership and team cooperation.


When using this for teams and people we make two changes to the acronym

P - Personal

E - Economic

S - Social

T - Technological

L - Logistical

E - Environmental


Personal What are their personal circumstances? What else do they have going on, beyond the problem we’re dealing with now. This is vital when faced with someone who is clearly in a negative mood - i.e. angry or upset. Doubly so if their emotional level seems disproportionate to the situation.

Equally, this applies to teams. It's important to think beyond the immediate issue and consider what other pressures or limitations the team is working under.


Economic

Is there some financial pressure driving what they’re doing? For example, they have an SLA which they’re at risk of breaching. Is there a bonus payment for achieving a goal? People will be motivated by things they’re paid for, which might lead them to do things that cause problems for others.


If your rewards pull you in a different direction then there is inevitably going to be tension. You'll need to either find a middle ground or agree on a quid pro quo. This is a very strong indicator of a non-collaboration culture. In the longer-term, the leadership team needs to align everybody's goals and rewards.


Social

How are they perceived? Are they looking to get recognition for their work? Do they need to feel valued? If there is someone who is always taking on everything they can they might need to feel indispensable, or they could have a hard time saying no. That's a leadership challenge because at some point they will reach their limit and burn-out. When that happens you'll have a large number of tasks not being done.


The other area to add in here is what are their career goals? Keeping that in mind and helping them to achieve that in any way, no matter how small, will lead to a much stronger relationship.


Technological

We can’t escape technology and how well it works has a big impact on our work-life. Sometimes it just won’t do what we want it to. Is what you need just impossible? Do you understand the tech well enough to know that? Knowing what the limitations are will save everyone from a frustrating conversation. If you don’t know, don’t assume, ask if something is possible first.


Keep in mind that it's not just one tool. It's more than likely that whatever you need doing will require multiple tools - even if it's all being done by one person. Far too often those tools were bought individually with little thought about how they'd work together, either technically or operationally. Additionally, the integrations between those tools can create more limitations.


Logistical

In the words of the world’s most famous Scotsman “Ye canne change the laws of physics, cap’in…”*


Is what you’re asking for even possible?


This follows on from the technological section. Just as there are limits to technology, there are limits to what can be done within a certain amount of time. And while relativity is a thing, it doesn’t apply in an office (Very dull Friday afternoons being an exception).


As the saying goes: Failure to plan ahead on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine. Last-minute tasks are inevitable, but they should be the exception. You are responsible for your own deadlines and need no to allow enough time for others to do their part.


Environmental

Every good acronym needs one word that has been shoved in to make it work.


This is it.


The idea is to think about and understand everything above as a whole. It all comes together to form a person's or team's work environment. Pressures from outside work will impact people at work - it's impossible to just switch that off. Thinking about each of the five areas individually will only get you so far, to really understand a situation you have to think about all of them, and how they all work together.



Keeping all of these in mind during any communication, particularly if discussing an issue or dealing with a crisis will allow you to get closer to a collaborative culture. Thinking about how all the components of a business work together; people, technology, workflows, and rewards will lead to a better working environment and a more efficient organisation.



Huh - thinking about how people and technology can work together… sounds like a recipe for finding ways to improve processes. But that’s a post for another day.



*I know the laws of physics can change, it’s kind of what physics is about.


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