Force Field Analysis
At university I studied Physics and Chemistry. Physics can be defined as the study of matter and energy and the interactions between the two. These interactions are termed forces. Isaac Newton proposed his third law of motion that states, “For every action [i.e. force], there is an equal and opposite reaction”. When you sit in your chair, your body exerts a downward force on the chair and the chair exerts an upward force on your body. There are two forces resulting from this interaction – a force on the chair and a force on your body.
When forces are in balance nothing moves. For example planes don’t fall out of the sky because the lift generated by the flow of air over the wings balances the weight of the plane caused by the force of gravity acting on its mass.
In business we can use the notion of opposing forces to manage change or decide on a course of action. This technique, known as Force Field Analysis, was created by social psychologist Kurt Lewin in the 1940s.
Any transition form the current situation to a desired situation requires a change in the balance of forces. There will always be a series of driving forces acting to bring about change and a set of restraining forces acting to maintain the status quo or make things worse. Once these have been defined you can formulate a plan to eliminate or reduce the restraining forces and strengthen or add to the driving forces.
The process follows the steps below:
- Define the problem.
- Describe the present state (‘Where are we now?’).
- Describe the desired state (‘Where do we want to be?’).
- Analyse the problem.
- List the restraining forces (‘What is stopping me?’).
- List the driving forces (‘What is helping me?’).
- Rank both sets of forces in order of importance.
- Develop solutions.
- Brainstorm possible courses of action for removing and/or reducing the restraining forces.
- Brainstorm possible courses of action for strengthening and/or adding to the driving forces.
- Develop a plan.
- List action steps, plan resources, review.
At RHA we can show you how to apply this technique, and many others, to overcome challenges and bring about growth or other desired changes in your business.