Unlike SWOT and PESTEL analysis, risk analysis does not only examine the present situation, but asks the question “what might go wrong?” It examines the likelihood of new problems surfacing, or existing threats and weaknesses worsening, and the potential impact of this on the campaign. Risk analysis is needed to plan for emergencies and contingencies.
More specifically, risk analysis examines:
|Risk||Probability (1 – very unlikely; 10 – highly likely||Impact (1 – insignificant; 10 – very serious)||How to minimize or mitigate the risk?|
“Prospective hindsight” (Coffmann, 2007:14) is another way of assessing the risks and obstacles that need to be taken into account when designing a campaign.
Practical instructions for “prospective hindsight”
When you have completed the steps of planning outlined in this section—issue setting, stakeholder analysis, situation analysis, developing a theory of change—, get together as a campaign team and with members of the target audience for the following exercise (adapted from Klugman, B., 2009. Less is More :Thoughts on Evaluating Social Justice Advocacy).
Assume that the effort has failed. Advocates and any other stakeholders involved in the effort are asked to identify possible reasons for failure. Do it individually. Each person then shares one reason from their list until all reasons have been recorded. The result is a comprehensive list of risks that you should be cognizant of and monitor. This process uses everybody’s insights and “mitigates the overconfidence” that campaigners might feel. If it feels overly demoralizing, then the team should carefully explore why.
Note that this is similar to the ‘risks/assumptions’ column of a logical framework. That column tends to focus on external factors, whereas this exercise can pick up a wide range of things that could go wrong and should be addressed in advance.
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