Are You Aware Of The Ripple Effects Of Your Decisions?

by Marcia Zidle, Featured Contributor

IF I.T. DECIDES TO INSTALL l a new computer system or HR decides to roll out a new, improved performance appraisal system, the Ripple effectimpact of the change extends far beyond the IT or HR departments. People and processes across all departments and functions feel the impact.

But how many times do you think this type of change is made with due consideration of how the change will impact the rest of the organization? How often are many business decisions made in isolation?  Sometimes we may wish we can turn back the clock.

Here’s the Solution: Impact Analysis

It’s is a very useful tool for making sure that you consider these types of ripple effects caused by businesses changes or decisions. Impact analysis forces you to think about the effects of change BEFORE you make it. This foresight helps to minimize much of the disruption and confusion that occur when changes are not thought through adequately. By examining the many possible consequences as you can, it goes a long way toward successful implementation and acceptance.

Step 1: Fully understand the decision or change you want to evaluate.
Be clear on the problems(s) it’s intended to address and the outcomes you want to occur. For example, if you’re going to roll out a new system, make sure everyone knows the who, what, where, when and how of the change initiative.

 Step 2: Determine what major areas and people might possibly be impacted.
You need to think broadly. For example, consider other departments, customer groups, employees, other stakeholders, procedures, polices, strategic initiatives, skills needed, etc.

 Step 3: Get feedback from key people and groups.
The larger the scale of the project or decision, the more groups and levels of the organization you need to involve. They are better able to assess the impact on operations from a tactical as well as strategic perspective.  Ask these kinds of questions:

  • What do you see are the possible negative side effects or risks?
  • What do you see are the possible positive outcomes or benefits?
  • How specifically will this change affect you? How will it make your work easier or harder?
  • What do you suggest to help us get acceptance and commitment during implementation?
  • How will the change affect our customers, our suppliers, key stakeholders? Will they be on board or resist?

Step 4: Decide if it’s a go or no go or put on hold.
Impact analysis provides you with a broad view of the change you’re about to embark on. The results will help you answer the ultimate question, “Is the change really beneficial when we look at the impact as a whole.” If yes, then it’s time to begin the implementation. If you are not convinced of the overall value then you need to review and revise your plan. And before you go out and make it happen, do another impact analysis – just to make sure you’re on the right track!

Smart Moves Tip:

Taking time to complete an impact analysis is important when making a significant change in people, policies, procedures, system or strategy. When you know what you’re facing and have a solid idea of both your supports and obstacles, you’ll have a much smoother implementation. And you’re avoid the question, “Who’s crazy ideas was this?”

Marcia Zidle
Marcia Zidle
Marcia Zidle, The Smart Moves Coach, is a national known board certified coach and keynote leadership speaker who guides organizations that are planning, or in the midst of, ambitious growth and change. As a career strategist, she works with professionals, managers and executives who want to build • shape • brand • change • vitalize their careers. She’s been selected by LinkedIn’s ProFinder as one of the best coaches for 2016!Her clients range from private owned businesses to mid-market companies to professional service firms to NGO’s. With 25 years of management, business consulting and international experience, she brings an expertise in executive and team leadership; employee engagement and innovation; personal and organization change; career building and development; emotional and social intelligence. Your Future Starts Now With Marcia!

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  1. Good advice, Marcia. Too often we also fail to explain the why of a change. People get comfortable with the way things are done. They need to know why you are upsetting the routine.

    Another factor often skipped over is that it isn’t just managers and department heads that are affected by new programs and procedures. It is the common worker and even government often forgets that. Look at how well prohibition went, or the mandated change to the metric system. Government failed to take the measure of the “common man” and the programs failed. So it will be in business if the “common worker” isn’t plugged into the change.

    A final point is that your advice isn’t just applicable to new programs and processes. Every decision a manager makes affects someone directly or indirectly. Too frequently we fail to be cognoscente of the impact we have on other people, and never know it.