Force-field analysis is a development in social science. It provides a framework for looking at the factors (forces) that influence a situation. It looks at forces that are either driving movement toward a goal (helping forces) or blocking movement toward a goal (hindering forces).
Developed by Kurt Lewin it is used to distinguish which factors within a situation, organization or community drive a person towards or away from a desired state, and which oppose the driving forces. These can be analysed in order to inform decisions that will make change more acceptable. 'Forces' are attitudes toward change as there is often a lot of emotion underlying people's attitude to change.
To understand what makes people resist or accept change we need to understand the values and experiences of that person or group.
Developing self awareness and emotional intelligence can help to understand these forces that work within us and others.
The following steps can be used as a guide to using the force field analysis but a template can also be found here: Force Field Analysis Template.pdf
- Define the change you want to see. Write down the goal or vision of a future desired state. Or you might prefer to understand the present status quo or equilibrium.
- Brainstorm or Mind Map the Driving Forces - those that are favourable to change. Record these on a force field diagram.
- Brainstorm or Mind Map the Restraining Forces - those that are unfavourable to, or oppose change. Record these on the force field diagram.
- Evaluate the Driving and Restraining forces. You can do this by rating each force, from 1 (weak) to 5 (strong), and total each side. Or you can leave the numbers out completely and focus holistically on the impact each has.
- Review the forces. Decide which of the forces have some flexibility for change or which can be influenced.
- Strategize! Create a strategy to strengthen the driving forces or weaken the restraining forces, or both. If you've rated each force how can you raise the scores of the Driving Forces or lower the scores of the Restraining Forces, or both?
- Prioritize action steps. What action steps can you take that will achieve the greatest impact? Identify the resources you will need and decide how to implement the action steps. g forces.Sometimes it may be easier to reduce the impact of restraining forces than it is to strengthen driving forces.