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What if analysis is a structured brainstorming method of determining what things can go wrong and judging the possibility and consequences of those situations occurring (Shelly et al, 2010). The answers obtained form the basis for which judgments regarding the acceptability of those risks are made. The answers are also useful in designing various mitigation measures for the risks judged to be unacceptable. In requires a review team with relevant experience and knowledge to brainstorm on the activity at hand (Shelly et al, 2010).
For the analysis to be effective the following procedures must be followed. (A case study of a government planning to construct a power plant for electricity generation).
The government in question must first define the activity of interest by specifying and clearly defining the boundaries for which risk related information is needed. Here the government may identify the proposed location of the power plant. In the second step, the government identifies the experts to define the problem of interest for the analysis. Such problems as related to power plant construction may be environmental degradation and displacement of people and their resulting financial implication. The officials can then proceed to subdivide the activity to get the major elements of analysis such as specific tasks.
With this basic information the government proceeds to generate the “what if” questions for each element of the activity identified. Here, a team of experts such as the environmental impact assessment group formulates hypothesis in a brainstorming process. The next step is therefore providing response to the “what if” questions. For example, environmental conservation experts may want to consider the environmental costs of various alternative ways of generating power. The task force team can then proceed to develop recommendations for the improvement of the initial plan. This could be change of the location of the power plant.
The team of experts can then further subdivide the elements of each recommended activities to provide detailed analysis. Such information may touch on the economic activities of the citizens living around both the proposed and the alternative areas. The results is then used in deciding whether or not it will be economical to proceed and construct the new power plant, whether to shift the project to an alternative place, the size of the plant and the tools to use in its construction.
In conclusion, the analysis provides simple process of analyzing activities. Its results are immediately available and can be applied as quickly as possible. However, its effectiveness relies on the experience and knowledge of the review team.