What is Force Field Analysis? What are the 3 Steps of the Force Field?

Do you know what force field analysis and the different steps of force field are? If not, check out this blog today!

What is Force Field Analysis? What are the 3 Steps of the Force Field?
What is Force Field Analysis? What are the 3 Steps of the Force Field?

Business leaders often find themselves in a rut when it comes to making strategic decisions. It could be about making decisions about an existing process, or about the introduction of change; even the best find themselves in a spot. Find yourself in this rut? Well, adopt the Force Field Analysis and bid adieu to all your decision-making concerns.

Business leaders, even the most successful ones, find themselves in a fix when making strategic decisions. However, making such decisions is inevitable, especially when they involve organizational change.

In such situations, a well-structured decision-making/change management technique can come handy and save a dime. Force Field Analysis is a popular decision-making technique that not only saves effort and improves the quality of the decisions but also boosts the chances of succeeding in the implementation.

This article discusses in detail Force Field Analysis and when and how to use it.

What is Force Field Analysis?

Introduced by Kurt Lewis during the 1940s, Force Field Analysis is currently a widely used business technique for making change-related business decisions. According to Lewis, “two sets of forces —the driving forces and the restraining forces — are always on the opposite sides within an organization. The status quo is maintained when the two are in equilibrium.”

To take a decision or bring about change within the organization, the driving forces must be strengthened, and the restraining forces must be weakened.

To put it in simple terms, the Force Field Analysis identifies the strengths and the roadblocks associated with a strategic decision. Once these are clear, it becomes much easier to make a decision and implement it.

For instance, if an organization is planning to introduce a change. It has listed the driving forces as

1. Improvement in customer engagement
2. Higher customer retention
3. Boosts brand image  

At the same time, it has listed the following as the restraining forces –

4. Cost of implementing the change
5. Requirement of training and development    

When the forces are ranked on a scale of 1 to 5 each, the driving forces score ten, while the restraining forces score only 7. Based on this, the decision should be to implement the change.

** The example provided here is quite simple so that it is easy to understand the core concept. However, in real life, the use of the Force Field Analysis provides detailed and deeper insights into the decision proposed.

When to use the Force Field Analysis?

The Force Field Analysis works best in scenarios where the team has a solution at hand but has difficulty putting it into action. For instance, a company, XYZ, wishes to implement a customer success platform. However, it is unable to judge its usability and profitability. In such a case, it can simply use the Force Field Analysis to evaluate the pros and cons of the implementation and take a decision accordingly.

At the same time, the analysis can also be used to –

  • Identify if there is a balance of power within the organization.
  • Know how your team members think about the problem/ solution at hand.
  • Identify the key decision-makers.
  • Encourage the critics to see the value that the proposed decision/ change brings.
  • Identify alternatives.
  • Promote teamwork.

Advantages of Force Field Analysis

There are a number of advantages of using the Force Field Analysis. Some of the advantages include –

1. It offers a visual summary of all the factors that support and oppose a proposed action/ decision

2. When noting down the pros and cons associated with the decision, it is also possible to go beyond the available data to evaluate the qualitative factors influencing the decision

It offers a diagnostic approach. For instance, you have visited a doctor with a problem at hand. Now, the doctor will perform some tests, will evaluate the test results, dismiss some of the assumptions based on the data and then provide a proper diagnosis. Similarly, the Force Field Analysis will evaluate the pros and cons associated with a decision and give you a well-rounded understanding of the decision at hand.

3. It helps in identifying the roadblocks beforehand. This gives time to think of better strategies and actions to avoid or handle them.

4. As the Force Field Analysis provides a visual summary, the stakeholders involved can better understand the concept and share their opinions openly.

Limitations of Force Field Analysis

1. To get an accurate analysis from the Force Field Analysis, it is critical to have all the stakeholders involved in the process, and all of them should take an active part in it. When the stakeholders are left out, there could be an impact on the outcome of the decision made.

2. Owing to the fact that the method pits the positives against the negatives, there is a possibility that it creates a divide within the organization.

3. The scoring given to the factors is mostly subjective.

4. The framework may not work well with all kinds of decisions.

The 3 steps for implementing Force Field Analysis

Now that we have discussed what Force Field Analysis is and when to use it, its pros, and cons, we shall now discuss the three key steps involved in its implementation.

Step 1: Discuss the positives and negatives of the proposed solution/ decision/ change.

Step 2: Assign scores to each of the factors on a scale of 1 to 5. 1 = weakest and 5 = strongest.

Step 3: Sum up the scores and analyze and plan the next steps.

Let us now discuss each of the steps of the Force Field Analysis

Step 1: Discuss the positives and negatives of the proposed solution/ decision/ change.

Prior to this step, you will have to note down the idea/ proposed change/ decision/ solution. Once this is done, you will have to involve all your stakeholders and discuss it. Once the premise is established, you will have to list down the forces that drive the change/ decision, i.e., the positives. Repeat the same for the factors resisting the proposal, i.e., the negatives.

** Pointers for Step 1

  1. The factors can be both internal and external.
  2. It can be helpful to consider how the proposed event would impact the overall business (consider both positive and negative impacts).
  3. Think about the implementation costs and the efforts required.
  4. Consider the impact of the proposed action on the business processes in place.
  5. It is also much useful to discuss the current situation and the possible situation after the implementation.

Step 2: Assign scores to each of the factors on a scale of 1 to 5. 1 = weakest and 5 = strongest.

Once you have listed the positives and the negatives surrounding the proposed idea, you need to give it a score (ranging between 1 and 5). The score must be assigned based on the degree of impact that the force has on the plan.

Step 3: Sum up the scores and analyze and plan the next steps.

The next step is to add up the scores for each side. The side with the highest score indicates what you should do about the proposed decision. For instance, imagine that the proposed idea is to ‘deploy a customer success platform.’ The driving forces and the restraining forces have been listed out. Assuming that the score on the side of the “driving forces” is higher, you should start planning your next course of action for the implementation.

** Pointers after Step 3

The analysis helps get an idea of the strongest forces and the weaker areas associated with the proposed idea. Now, your focus must be on minimizing the weak forces and strengthening the driving forces. This will boost your chances of succeeding with the proposed implementation.

Wrapping it up

On a closing note, we have to say it loud and clear that the Force Field Analysis is a great tool to evaluate the positives and negatives of a proposed idea. The analysis involves all the stakeholders, and thus, it can serve as a healthy activity to encourage the participation of the team members.

As it focuses on listing out the positives and negatives surrounding change/ decision, it drives critical thinking and brings out perspectives that may have been missed before. Finally, the outcome of the analysis helps identify the most effective solution.

Have a tough time making a decision or introducing change within your organization? The Force Field Analysis can definitely make things easier. …43

Do you use a different decision-making technique? Let us discuss it more.

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