Force Field Analysis

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Identifies driving and inhibiting forces among stakeholders

Force field analysis is a method developed to identify the driving and inhibiting forces that influence change in a project, organization or process. It was developed by the psychologist Kurt Lewin and is frequently used in change management and project management.

What is force field analysis?

Force field analysis is an analytical tool used to identify the factors that support a planned change (driving forces) and those that work against it (inhibiting forces). The aim is to gain a better understanding of the dynamics behind the change and to develop strategies to implement the change successfully.

Objectives of the force field analysis

  • Understanding the dynamics of change: Identifying the forces that drive or hinder change.
  • Strategy development: Development of measures to strengthen the driving forces and reduce or neutralize the inhibiting forces.
  • Decision-making: Support in deciding whether a planned change is feasible and how it can best be implemented.
  • Communication: Promoting a common understanding of the change processes and the forces involved among the stakeholders.

Procedure for the force field analysis

  1. Determining the change objective: Clearly define what change is to be achieved.
  2. Identifying the driving forces: Collecting factors that support or drive the change.
  3. Identifying the inhibiting forces: Collecting factors that hinder or work against the change.
  4. Analyzing the forces: Evaluating the strength and importance of each force and how they influence each other.
  5. Developing actions: Develop strategies and measures to strengthen the driving forces and reduce or eliminate the inhibiting forces.

Example of a force field analysis

Change objective: Introduction of a new IT system in the company.

Driving forces:

  • Improved efficiency and productivity through the new system.
  • Support from the management.
  • Positive feedback from early test users.

Inhibiting forces:

  • Resistance from employees due to fear of change.
  • High training costs and time required for familiarization.
  • Technical problems and compatibility issues.

The forces are often presented graphically in a diagram to visualize their relative strength and the overall state of the force field. This helps to quickly identify and prioritize the most important factors.

Matrix visaulization

Strengthening forces Strength Inhibiting forces Strength
Increased efficiency 4 Opposing employees 5
Supportive project leadership 3 Training costs 3
Positive feedback 2 Technical issues 4

Strategies for change

  • Strengthen the driving forces: Increase efficiency through additional resources, increase communication of the benefits of the new system.
  • Reduce inhibiting forces: conduct training programs to alleviate fears, offer technical support to resolve compatibility issues.

By applying force field analysis, organizations can take a structured and systematic approach to successfully planning and implementing change. According to Lewin's force field analysis model, the change process goes through the following three phases:

  1. Unfreezing: In this phase, raising awareness of change among the employees affected releases energy that is ideally used positively for the necessary change. Developing and communicating the plans to those affected helps to ensure that employees accept the planned changes.
  2. Changing: This phase is characterized by collaboration and exchange in order to implement and realize the new standards. Managers monitor, coach and, if necessary, intervene to successfully drive change.
  3. Refreezing: This stage is intended to stabilize the changes and consolidate the new work processes and structures. Here too, the new processes are monitored and adjusted if necessary.

Although this 3-phase model for change management is very simple, Kurt Lewin's 1936 book "Principles of Topological Psychology", in which he formulated this model, is the basis for subsequent models and theories in change management.

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