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Use a Threat-Opportunity Analysis to Develop Your Case for Change

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In this article we will share with you the Threat-Opportunity Analysis, which is a change management tool that helps a project team develop its case for change. We had written previously about how to develop a powerful case for change and why it’s important to have one for your business transformation initiative (e.g., enterprise system deployment, organizational restructuring, downsizing, process redesign, etc.).

To recap, developing a compelling and credible case for change helps:

  • Build enthusiasm for the initiative, both within and outside the immediate team
  • Communicate the reasons for the initiative
  • Begin to build the engagement needed to successfully implement the initiative
  • Identify possible metrics for the team’s initiative.

How to Use the Tool

The Threat-Opportunity Analysis provides valuable input to the case for change and also helps you to cultivate a shared need for the changes associated with the initiative.

Step 1. Download the tool here > Threat-Opportunity Analysis Tool (PDF format)

Step 2. Identify the internal and external factors that represent short- and long-term threats for the issue being addressed by the initiative.  For example, in a prevention of quality problems initiative, some of the threats identified were:

  • Short-term: Increased warranty costs, reduced customer loyalty, reduced market share, deterioration of supplier relationships, employee retention issues, and missing objectives
  • Long-term: Financial impact, decreasing brand loyalty, and ultimately survival

Step 3. Identify internal and external factors that represent short- and long-term opportunities for the issue being addressed by the initiative.  For example, in a prevention of quality problems initiative, some of the opportunities identified were:

  • Short-term: Pride of work, motivation to reduce warranty costs, desire to increase customer loyalty and market share, and desire to be a proud employee
  • Long-term: New export opportunities, customers’ desire to buy high-quality products, and desire to build brand equity

Step 4. As a project team, discuss questions A-E listed in the tool.

Step 5. Determine how to incorporate the output into your case for change and communications strategy.

Tips for Using the Tool

  • In discussing the threat and opportunity factors, consider the following:
    –Examples of changes resulting from impending threats, and what the consequences were; these examples can be tied to the initiative or not (they can even be personal).  Often compromises or less-than-optimal decisions are made when people are acting because of a threat.
    –Examples of changes resulting from perceived opportunities, and their consequences.  What implications can we derive from such examples?
  • Before applying the tool, discuss with the team leader(s) some examples of change efforts in the organization that are considered to be:
    –“Best practice” change examples.  What drove the change?  What did leadership do to encourage the change?  What were the consequences.
    –Less-than-desired results examples.  What drove the change?
  • Be sure to have the team get specific about how they can use the outputs of this tool in their work.

If you like this tool, be sure to check out Change Accelerator, a comprehensive change management toolkit with 60+ tools and templates. If you’d like expert assistance with your company’s business transformation initiative, contact Emergent.

Other articles you may be interested in:

Jesse Jacoby
The Editor of Emergent Journal and founder of Emergent, Jesse is a recognized expert in business transformation. He and his team partner with Fortune 500 and mid-market companies to deliver successful people and change strategies. Jesse is the creator of the Accelerating Change & Transformation (ACT) model and developer of Change Accelerator and Savvy Transition. Contact Jesse at 303-883-5941 or

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    • […] Tap into the Desire to Avoid Loss People are more attune to loss than to gain. This “negativity bias” is a longstanding survival trait that has kept humans alive throughout their development as a species. Historically, it was always more important to avoid stepping on a snake than to find a soft place to sleep. Humans may have advanced in many ways, but something scary still gets and holds attention more quickly and longer than something pleasant. Therefore, rather than just telling people what they stand to gain from a change, you may have a greater impact by telling them what they stand to lose if they don’t accept the change. Also, see our article on using threat-opportunity analysis. […]

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