Impact Assessment – using the TGROW Model

The following questions are designed to help a person or team carry out an assessment.

They are structured around the T/GROW model used in coaching.

The T/GROW model doesn’t need to flow in one direction, it explores the Topic, Goal, Reality, Options and Way forward in a dynamic way, returning to each.

Coaching expert John Whitmore says: “one may only be able to define a vague goal until one has examined the reality in some detail. It will then be necessary to go back and define the goal much more precisely before moving forward again….When listing the options, it will be necessary to check back to see if each of them would in fact move you toward the desired goal…”.

Impact assessment works in the same way – it is a process that explores options, ideas and their impacts, it may mean needing to adjust original policy or service intentions because they have a negative impact or because there is better way which increases positive impacts/outcomes.

The questions will help you carry out a comprehensive and clear assessment which gives due regard to equality, environmental and economic impacts.

You could ask someone to go through the questions with you. You could record your answers aurally and write them up later. You could do this as a team.

TGROW Assessment


  • What is the impact assessment about? – what service or policy area is under review?
  • What is its scope? – what does it do and where does it do it? Are other agencies involved?
  • If you described this to a member of the public would they understand it? If not, how could you describe it?
  • Are you developing a new project, policy or strategy, or is it a change or review?
  • Who needs to be involved in this process? Who can help you? Who is the accountable officer (i.e. Head of Service) and how are they supporting the process?


  • What do you (the service/organisation) want to achieve? What are the intended aims and outcomes for the organisation, partners and Devon’s communities? (this will be the ‘goal’)

Let’s explore this goal further:

  • A goal should be SMART, PURE and CLEAR:
    • Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time based.
    • Positive, Understood, Relevant and Ethical.
    • Challenging, Legal, Environmentally sound, Appropriate, Recorded.
  • What are the reasons for the change? Is it a forced change or voluntary? If it is a forced change, what is being required of you?
  • Are there any other limitations such as statutory responsibilities?
  • What is the budget?  What is the % increase/decrease?
  • Forget all limitations such as budgets, influences or infrastructure, what is your/your stakeholders’ ‘ideal world’ scenario in relation to this issue?
  • Can you describe your goal in one sentence so that you can keep it easily in mind? If not, does your goal need to be broken down into two or more goals?
  • If you explained your goal to someone else such as a member of the public, would they understand it? If not, how could you describe it?
  • If your goal is negative or neutral, can you convert it into a genuine positive goal (without it sounding like ‘spin’)?
  • Imagine in a year or so in the future – what will be different?
  • What are the cost-benefits arising from this goal?
  • On a scale of 0 to 10: How relevant is your goal to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality and foster good relations? – if people could have different experiences/needs/expectations then the issue is more relevant to equality. More attention should be paid to issues with higher relevance.
  • On a scale of 0 to 10: How important is this to the organisation right now?
  • In what way are you/stakeholders investing in the process/improvement?
  • When do you want or need to achieve it by?


  • What is happening now?
  • Who currently uses the service or is affected by the policy? – this could include or be limited to staff. (referred as ‘users’).
  • If relevant, how are staff organised (locations, working hours, development, supervision etc)?
  • What do you know about the users/user’s potential needs in terms of (where relevant) their: age, disabilities, race/culture/ethnicity, sex/gender and gender reassignment, sexual orientation and religion/belief, and other factors e.g. rural, pregnancy/maternity…?
  • What sources of information are available to you about people using/needing the service or policy? Sources of information can include the DCC Community Insight survey, health and wellbeing profiles, socio-economic and census profiles, population projections, staff diversity data and survey results, customer feedback, customer data. Visit Equality Information. Also, try searching the internet – there is a lot of information out there! For example “LGBT and [the issue you are working on]”.
  • In what way may these groups or a person in general be dependent on the service, policy or practice or have certain expectations? Use the Seeing RED questions.
  • For commissioning processes, what do you know about the market’s ability to meet needs based upon age, disabilities, race/culture/ethnicity, sex/gender and gender reassignment, sexual orientation and religion/belief, and other factors such as rurality, economy and skills? What ‘added value’ do providers bring in relation to equality and diversity, economic and environmental benefits? The same question could apply to partnerships and voluntary/community sector assets.


  • In light of the ‘reality’ is your goal still relevant and appropriate?
  • How much control and influence do you have over achieving your goal?
  • What obstacles or limitations exist that could prevent or hinder you from achieving your goal? (subsequent questions may be needed to challenge whether the obstacles are real or perceived, whether they are limiting beliefs etc.)
  • What steps could you take to move closer to your goal? – what options are available (including ‘do nothing’)? What are the pros and cons of all your options?
  • On a scale of 1-10 to what extent do you think each option will help achieve your goal?
  • On a scale of 1-10 how affordable (within budget) is each option?
  • On a scale of 1-10 how easy would it be to achieve each option?
  • On a scale of 1-10 how positive, ethical, environmentally sound and appropriate is each option?

Are there any other risks of not pursuing this option? What are they?

If you have one, what is the preferred option?

Views of others:

  • Who have you consulted about the goal and options?
  • When did you consult and what was the feedback?
  • Are you confident the consultation was open, meaningful and inclusive? What evidence do you have to suggest this?
  • If you haven’t yet consulted or need to consult again, who will you consult with (users, stakeholders…), how and when (and how long) are you going to consult?
  • How are you going to ensure the consultation is inclusive and meaningful?

Sources of information:

  • What other sources of information have you used, or could you use, to help inform decision making? Is there anyone else who could offer insight or advice?
  • Is there another service/policy that is achieving the same goal (i.e. benchmark with other organisations)? If you asked them, what they do and how they do it, what would they say?
  • What tools/resources do you need to achieve your goal? What opportunities/tools/resources are available to you to help achieve your goal? (this may require further signposting).

Analysis of the options/goal:

  • In what way could your goal and preferred option have a negative consequence on something or someone else?
  • In what way could your goal and preferred option have a positive consequence on something or someone else?

Consider these in relation to each of the protected characteristics of people of all relevant ages, disabilities, sex, gender identity and gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, ethnicity, culture, nationality/national origin, skin colour, religion and belief, sexual orientation and marriage/civil partnership, and other factors such as socio-economic (low income), digital exclusion, education/skills, family and rurality:

  • In what way are you eliminating or reducing the potential for direct or indirect discrimination, harassment or disadvantage? (don’t just say “no-one will be disadvantaged”, explain how  you will ensure they will not be disadvantaged).
  • Are there any negative consequences? If so, in what way are they reasonable, proportionate and unavoidable? If you were challenged in court, would a court agree with you? If not, you need to change your approach.
  • In what way are you advancing equality (meeting needs, encouraging participation, making adjustments for disabled people, ‘closing gaps’?). What more could you do to advance equality? What positive action could you take? Have you asked stakeholders/users for ideas?
  • In what way could tensions arise between different communities/groups – whether perceived or real? What could you do to foster good relations between groups (tackling prejudice and promote understanding), if relevant? Does anyone else need to be involved?
  • In what way could actions arising from the goal/options affect human rights (dignity, life, privacy, family, freedom etc.)? Are there conflicting rights between different groups, which groups have ‘absolute rights’ and which have ‘conditional rights’?

If you are unsure please refer to the Diversity Guide. If necessary, seek guidance from the Corporate Equality Officer.

In what way does your goal and preferred option impact on economic considerations: knowledge and skills, employment levels and local business?

Is the policy or practice subject to any of the following?:

  • Devon County Council’s Environmental Review Process
  • Planning Permission
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Strategic Environmental Assessment

If not, in what way can you ensure the goal and option, where relevant:

  • Reduces waste and send less waste to landfill?
  • Conserves and enhance biodiversity (variety of living species)?
  • Safeguards the distinctive characteristics, features and special qualities of Devon’s landscape?
  • Conserves and enhance the quality and character of our built environment (links with disability access) and public spaces?
  • Minimises greenhouse gas?
  • Minimises pollution (including air, land, water, light and noise)?
  • Contributes to reducing water consumption?
  • Ensures resilience to the future effects of climate change?

If you are unsure, please refer to the Environmental Analysis checklist.

  • Are there any linkages or conflicts between social, environmental and economic impacts?
  • How will the economic, social (including equality) and environmental wellbeing of the relevant area be improved (or maintained) through what is being proposed?

Revisiting the goal/options:

  • Thinking back to your goal and options, in light of the obstacles and limitations, is it still achievable, ethical (including promoting equality) and relevant, or does it need adjusting?
  • Looking back at the options, is there another option which would have a less negative impact? Revisit the questions above.
  • Looking back at the options, is there another option which would have a more positive impact? Revisit the questions above.
  • How will you know you have achieved your goal? What will it look, feel and be like for you? How will you know the problem is solved?

Way forward

  • What actions do you need to take first, second, third etc.? For example, in commissioning, what questions will you build into the tendering exercise, contract and contract monitoring to ensure equality (over and above the standard clauses)?
  • What further support or information do you need? Who (this could be an agency, people or person) will be able to help?
  • Who else needs to know? When will you tell them?
  • How will the impacts be monitored?
  • When will you carry out reviews?

Write up your thinking and recommendations (there is an impact assessment template you can use). Ensure it is in plain English and provides clear information on which to make a decision and understand the implications of that decision.

To publish an impact assessment please send it to the ‘impact assessment – mailbox’ in pdf format. If it is the final version (e.g. not a pre-consultation draft) please ensure it is signed off by the head of service (with a date).