Force Field Analysis

Force Field Analysis is a method for listing , discussing, and assessing the various forces for and against a proposed change.

What is it?

Force Field Analysis was created by Kurt Lewin in the 19 40s.  He used it in his work as a social Psychologist.  In the modern world, it is used for making and communicating decisions about whether to go ahead with a change or not.

It frames problems in terms of factors or pressures that support the status quo (restraining forces) and those pressures that support change in the desired direction (driving forces).  The driving forces must be strengthened or the resisting forces weakened for the change to take effect.  A factor can be people, resources, attitudes, traditions, regulations, values, needs, desires, etc. As a tool for managing change, Force Field Analysis helps identify those factors that must be addressed and monitored if change is to be successful.

What does this tool look like?
Working example of Force Field Analysis
Why use this tool?

It can be difficult for teams to make decisions about testing new ideas especially when there are a variety of opinions.  Force Field Analysis provides a structured approach to decision making which helps teams to consider the forces that are driving the change and those that resist the change.

Where does this tool fit in the improvement journey?
Where the tool fits in the improvement journey
How to use it.

All you need to use the Force Field Analysis technique is a blank sheet of paper or a whiteboard.  It is vitally important to involve those that work in the system (subject matter experts).

Step 1: Identify the goal or change and write it down in a box in the middle of the page

Step 2: Consider the forces that are driving the change. These could be internal or external to your situation. 

Step 3: Identify the forces which resist or are unfavourable to change.

Step 4: Assign Scores.  Score each force from one (weak) to five (strong) according to how important the team feels for each force.  Then add up the scores for all of the driving and resisting forces.  For a more visual representation, you may also wish to draw arrows around each force.  The size of the arrow will correlate to the agreed score.

Step 5: Analyse and Apply.  You can now use the outcome in two ways:

  1. To decide whether or not to progress with the change
  2. To think about how you can strengthen the driving forces or weaken the resisting forces