Force Field Analysis (Kurt Lewin)

Force Field Analysis was created by Kurt Lewin in the 1940s. Lewin originally used it in his work as a social psychologist. Today, however, it is also used in business, for making and communicating go/no-go decisions.

The idea behind Force Field Analysis is that situations are maintained by an equilibrium between forces that drive change and others that resist change. For change to happen, the driving forces must be stronger than the resisting forces.

There are 5 steps to the force field analysis: 1: Describe Your Plan or Proposal for Change; 2: Identify Forces For Change; 3: Identify Forces Against Change; 4: Assign Scores; 5: Analyse and Apply.

When opposing forces are identified, the most effective way to address them is to focus on reducing the intensity of the resisting forces rather than fighting to increase the intensity of the driving forces. Interestingly, by increasing the driving forces, the resisting forces generally also intensify therefore maintaining the status quo.

From the perspective of organisational transformation, force field analysis can serve to consider important factors such as culture, people, organisational structure, habits, customers, policies, procedures, and behaviours or attitudes.

Pros

  • It provides a visual summary of all the forces and factors supporting or opposing the change.
  • It provides the means to analyse and prioritise activities to manage the change.
  • It expands the evaluation beyond quantitative data to include qualitative factors .

Cons

  • It requires the participation of all stakeholders to ensure accurate information to provide a realistic picture.
  • It can be based on the subjective view and biased opinions of the stakeholders carrying out the analysis.
  • It can cause division rather than consensus in the analysing group.

Recommended resources:

The Conceptual Representation and the Measurement of Psychological Forces, Lewin Kurt, 1938, ISBN 161427519X

Let’s have a coffee and talk about what’s happening in your organisation right now!