My Favorite Change Tools, Part 2: Impact Analysis

My second blog about my favorite change tools is about an impact analysis. In any major change effort, what you want people to know or do differently is critical to define – and a good impact analysis helps you do just that. Merriam-Webster defines impact this way:


: to have a strong and often bad effect on (something or someone)

: to hit (something) with great force

Seismograph Earthquake ActivityNotice the negative connotation of that definition? Have you ever been impacted by a change that you weren’t expecting? Take, for example, an upgrade to your laptop’s operating system. The changes were likely made without you knowing – as part of a standard update protocol – and all of a sudden you’re trying to do things the way you used to and they don’t work anymore! At best, this is an incredibly frustrating experience. At worst – in some companies I’ve seen where change impacts weren’t understood or explained – people shut down and the change causes major disruption to business as usual.

You can mitigate these negative impacts with your organization by doing a thorough impact analysis. Done right, it can help you:

  • Define the specific difference between your current and future state
  • Outline a detailed picture of the degree of change across different audiences
  • Understand the magnitude of change across different groups (to answer the question – “How big of a deal is this?”)
  • Know what to communicate and train

The key is to outline your operational processes and analyze the differences between the way things are done today and the way they will be done in the future at a detailed level. Then, you can pull up and summarize across audiences to set expectations about what’s changing and why.

As you analyze impacts, you’ll be able to get specific in your communications, articulate “what does this mean to me?” and know how to train various audiences to obtain the knowledge and skills to be successful.

Sheri Browning is a Partner at PeopleResults. You can reach her at or on Twitter at @sbPResults.