Our latest video – Forcefield Analysis

It has been a fast-paced start to the year. Change and disruption very much feels like part of the “new norm”. So, we felt it appropriate to share a version of the Forcefield Analysis video that we have been working on. We made it as part of a wider client project but it works as a standalone video – or at least, we think it does. You can be the judge.

The video can be found here: Optima Training YouTube channel – Forcefield Analysis

And as always, there are some words that follow if you prefer a more traditional way of consuming your content.

Lewin’s Forcefield Analysis model

Forcefield Analysis is a model for assessing the factors that promote and hinder change. The model was introduced by Kurt Lewin, who saw change as a process of transition.

Lewin described change as a three-stage process:

  1. Unfreezing the current state
  2. Making a change
  3. Freezing to bring about stability once the desired state has been introduced.

It sounds simple – but it rarely is.

There are all sorts of reasons that change projects struggle to gain momentum. Forcefield Analysis is used to assess the factors (or forces) that will both assist and resist the change. When the driving forces for change are stronger than the headwinds (or resisting factors) it is easier to get support for making the change. Motivation is harder to maintain when people feel that the headwinds are too strong.

Essentially, the status quo (or balance of forces) that exists in the current state must be disrupted (or unfrozen). You do this by either reducing the influence of restraining forces or strengthening the driving forces. Lewin argued that for a desired change to occur naturally, the focus should be on reducing the restraining forces.

In this way, the Forcefield Analysis tool provides a simple way of mapping and analysing the different factors that influence a change initiative. You can also use it as a diagnostic tool for problem solving, a decision tool when evaluating a proposed change or as a tool to inform stakeholder management.

The Forcefield Analysis model is really just a framework to guide your thinking and it give you something to hang your ideas on, making them visual and easy to share.

Using the Forcefield Analysis model

Write a short statement at the top of the page that defines the change that will be the focus of the analysis

On the left-hand side of the page, you list the forces, or factors, that are driving the change. Those things that will encourage or support you in making the change happen. That could include things such as improvements in technology, changing market trends, higher levels of demand, a change in leadership or new political policies.

On the other side of the page, you list those factors, or forces, that will work against you in resisting the change. These are the project headwinds. They can include levels of bureaucracy, changing market trends or customer attitudes, changes in competition, previous experiences and fear of change.

You then assign values to each factor to indicate its impact or importance. Some people use a scale of 1 to 10 but we like to keep things simple and use a scale of 1 (low impact) to 5 (high impact). Each factor is represented by an arrow, the size of which provides a quick visual indication of its impact on the change.

Once completed, you can easily assess the overall balance of change. You do this by adding up the scores on each side of the model.

And that is your traditional Forcefield Analysis. Your supporting and opposing factors are listed either side of the change, with arrows drawn to represent the assigned scores. The bigger the arrow – the stronger the impact of the factor.

Adding a layer of analysis

However, it can sometimes be useful to add another layer of analysis. You do this by drawing a horizontal line across the middle of the canvas. You then list external factors  above the line and internal factors below it. In this way, you can focus your strategic planning on internal factors. They are more likely to be within your control.

Skip to the end – summing up

Forcefield Analysis provides a simple way of considering the factors for and against a potential change. It is visual, making it simple yet powerful and will inform decisions about whether to pursue implementing the change.

The analysis helps you to quickly identify those resisting forces that you can weaken in order to tip the scales in favour of the change. You are then better able to deliver the change successfully.