Why use Force Field Analysis?
Force field analysis is a useful decision-making technique. It will help you make a decision by analysing the forces for and against a change, and help you communicate the reasoning behind your decision.
You can use it for two purposes: to decide whether to go ahead with the change; and to increase your chances of success, by strengthening the forces supporting change and weakening those against it.
What is Force Field Analysis?
Force field analysis is a method for listing, discussing, and evaluating the various forces for and against a proposed change. When a change is planned, force field analysis helps you look at the big picture by analysing all of the forces impacting the change and weighing the pros and cons. You use the tool by listing all of the factors (forces) for and against your decision or change. You then score each factor based on its influence, and add up the scores for and against change to find out which of these wins.
How do we do it?
To carry out a force field analysis, describe your plan or proposal for change in a box in the middle of a page. List the forces for change in a column on the left-hand side, and the forces against change in a column on the right-hand side.
As you do this, consider the following questions:
- What business benefit will the change deliver?
- Who supports the change? Who is against it? Why?
- How easy will it be to make the change? Do you have enough time and resources to make it work?
- What costs are involved?
- What other business processes will be affected by the change?
- What are the risks?
It's important to identify as many of the factors that will influence the change as you can. Where appropriate, involve other people, such as team members or experts in your organisation.
Next, assign a score to each force, from, say, 1 (weak) to 5 (strong), and then add up the scores for each column (for and against).
For a visual representation of the influence that each force has, draw arrows around them. Use bigger arrows for the forces that will have a greater influence on the change, and smaller arrows for forces that will have less of an influence.
Bear in mind that while force field analysis helps you understand the impact of different factors on your decision or change, it can be quite subjective. If you're making an important decision, use it alongside other decision-making tools such as Decision Matrix Analysis, Decision Tree Analysis, and Cost/Benefit Analysis.
Imagine that you're planning to install new manufacturing equipment in your factory.
You might draw up a Force Field Analysis like the one below:
Once you've done your Force Field Analysis, you can use it in two ways:
- To decide whether or not to move forward with the decision or change.
- To think about how you can strengthen the forces that supports the change and weakens the forces opposing it, so that the change is more successful.
If you had to implement the project in the example above, the analysis might suggest a number of changes that you could make to the initial plan. For instance, you could:
- Train staff ("Cost" +1) to minimize the fear of technology ("Staff uncomfortable with new technology" -2).
- Show staff that change is necessary for business survival (new force that supports the change, +2).
- how staff that new machines would introduce variety and interest to their jobs (new force that supports the change, +1).
- Raise wages to reflect new productivity ("Cost" +1, "Loss of overtime" -2).
- Install slightly different machines with filters that eliminate pollution ("Impact on environment" -1).
These changes would swing the balance from 11:10 (against the plan), to 13:8 (in favour of the plan).