High Impact / Low Probability Analysis
Assume an unlikely outcome has happened and determine its impacts.
High Impact / Low Probability Analysis is used to raise awareness of the major impacts from an unlikely outcome. This technique is helpful when unanticipated developments suggest that a “long-shot” scenario has become more likely.
To perform a High Impact / Low Probability Analysis:
Step 1: Assume that one of your outcomes has already occurred.
Step 2: Clearly define what happened and its impact. Was there a trigger event? Were there secondary impacts?
Step 3: Identify the recent information that may suggest an increased likelihood of this outcome.
Step 4: Develop a logical chain of argumentation to explain how this could have happened. Extrapolate from current information and project out to your potential outcome.
Step 5: Map out any other credible ways this outcome could have happened.
Step 6: Generate a list of Indicators that can provide you with an early warning system that this outcome may be unfolding.
Step 7: Assess the impact of negative scenarios. Develop contingency plans to overcome these difficulties.
Step 8: Assess the impact of positive scenarios. How could these be enabled?
Step 9: Monitor your indicators.
Handbook of Analytic Tools and Techniques, Randolph H. Pherson, Reston, VA: Pherson Associates, 2008.
Structured Analytic Techniques for Intelligence Analysis, Richards Heuer, Jr. and Randolph H. Pherson, Washington DC: CQ Press, 2011.