Change management is not an easy task. It requires a rigorous plan, and managers need to use a number of techniques and tools as well. It is good that there are a number of tools and theories available which can be used in change management. One of these highly cited tools is called Force Field Analysis.
Definition of Force Field Analysis
‘A force field analysis provides an initial view of change problems that need to be tackled, by identifying forces for and against change’ (Johnson, Whittington & Scholes, 2006, p.514). This tool was developed by Kurt Lewin in 1940s.
Change is about balancing between two forces supporting and opposing the change. The supporting forces are known as driving forces, and the opposing forces are known as restraining forces. Managers, who are trying to implement a change, must understand the balance between these two forces. They can then remove or weaken the restraining forces so that the driving forces become stronger for the change to take place (Plunkett & Attner, 1994).
How to use Force Field Analysis: Managers wishing to apply the Force Field Analysis should do the following:
- Identify all the forces supporting and opposing the change
- List all the forces supporting the change in one column, and all the forces opposing the change in another
- Allocate a score to each force, from 1 (weak) to 5 (strong) depending on their importance
- Draw a diagram like the one above, showing the forces for and against the change.
Example of Force Field Analysis
Managers in an organisation have decided to implement a new software system. The likely driving forces may include but not limited to the support of shareholders, operational effectiveness, and higher productivity. The likely restraining forces may include but not limited to loss of working hours for some staff, cost, and resistance from some members of staff. Managers need to analyse these forces and to do that, they can apply Force Field Analysis.
In a nutshell, Force Field Model is a very good tool to identify and evaluate the forces supporting and opposing a proposed programme of change. It is therefore good for managers or anybody managing a change to be familiar with Force Field Analysis.
The article publication date: 06 September 2016
Further Reading/ References
Johnson, G., Scholes, K. and Whittington, R. (2006) Exploring Corporate Strategy: Text and Cases, 7th Edition, UK: Prentice Hall
Kotter, J. (2012) Leading Change, 1st edition, Harvard Business Review Press
Plunkett, W. & Attner, R. (1994) Introduction to Management. 5th edition, USA: International Thomson Publishing
Author: M Rahman
M Rahman writes extensively online with an emphasis on business management and marketing. He is a graduate of both Leeds Metropolitan University and London South Bank University.