Impact Analysis is a tool that can be used to help with Problem Definition. It is an excellent way for a team of people to start thinking about a problem and it often serves as an early pointer to possible solutions. Like all of the tools and techniques, it is easy to do but can make a big difference.
How to do it
1. What is the current situation?
The team brainstorms and discusses this question until they have as clear and detailed description as possible of the problem.
Everything is captured on a flipchart.
2. What is the impact of the current situation?
The team then brainstorms and discusses this question until they are satisfied that they have a full and clear idea of all of the repercussions of the problem.
What 'damage' is being done to the organisation and / or the patient? How is this problem hurting us?
3. What is the ideal situation?
This third question is then brainstormed and discussed. Starting with a clean sheet, and if there were no constraints, what ideally would we like to happen? Brainstorming this question provides the team with a goal – something to aim for. It also provides a measure of success – when the team has implemented their solution to the problem they can compare it with the 'ideal situation'.
4. What would be the impact of the ideal situation?
The final question is optional. Discuss it if you feel it would be useful to do so.
Impact Analysis is an easy way to get started. Sometimes when a team first meets to tackle a problem they are not sure where to start or what to do.
Just do an Impact Analysis. It gets you working on the problem straight away.