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Force Field Analysis

The force field analysis is based on the Field Theory, a model of Social Psychology proposed by Kurt Lewin, who borrowed the concept of force field from Physics. Lewin introduced interactionism to explain human behavior, understanding that this is the product of the individual-situation interaction, the result of combining nature and nurture.

Force Field Analysis

In professional, personal, or organizational development, force field analysis is a technique that allows a situation, objective, or proposal to be analyzed in terms of driving forces and restraining forces.

Driving forces are those tendencies, impulses, and conditions that help us achieve the proposed goal or make it more likely to achieve the desired change. On the contrary, the restrictive forces would prevent or slow down this change. When these forces are internal, they are usually related to our values and beliefs system.

creatividad adaptativa

This field of forces occurs whenever we are faced with the decision-making process both on a personal and professional level. For example, let’s imagine that we want to start a business. On the one hand, we find a strong desire and motivation to undertake, the economic situation is favorable, there is a potential market, entry barriers are not high, and competition is limited. On the other hand, our family environment does not agree to support this adventure, and our current job position is good and is very well paid. How will this decision process end?

To help us make decisions, we can use the Force Field Analysis tool that I propose below.

Scheme to analyze the force field

1. Action or change to analyze

This is a tool to think strategically and globally about any action or plannable change.

You can use it to analyze changes such as: launching a new business or product, implementing new software, mergers, outsourcing, changes in the professional career, or personal changes such as the decision to live with someone, to give a few examples.

In this first step, we will describe the change or action that we will analyze.

2. Personal assessment of change

What emotions do you get when you think about it? How do you feel? Describe both pleasant and unpleasant feelings.

What thoughts does this change raise in you? What benefits do you think it can provide you or to your organization? What problems would / are solved with this change? What issues or damages could it generate? Describe both the positive and the negative that you think the change may have associated with it.

3. Main implications of the change

If it is a change at the business level, consider organizational aspects and impacts, in third parties, in the industry, in the organization’s strategy, in the results, etc. Another tool that can help you assess the general environment of your value proposition is PESTEL analysis.

If it is a change on a personal level, consider the impacts on yourself, your family environment, your support network, etc. Neurological levels for the personal development scheme can also help you in the evaluation.

Remember that the impacts can be positive or negative.

4. Driving forces: decision-making accelerators
  • Make a list of all the driving forces behind this change or action.
  • Assess the strength or weakness of each driving force. Use the following scale: 1 = very weak; 2 = weak; 3 = something strong; 4 = strong; 5 = very strong
  • Rate the importance of each force on a similar scale: 1 = not at all important; 2 = not very important; 3 = something important; 4 = important and 5 = very important.
5. Restrictive forces: inhibitors of change or action
  • Make a list with all the restrictive forces, that is, those that work against your objective or action, preventing or stopping it.
  • Assess the strength or weakness of each restraining force. Use the following scale: 1 = very weak; 2 = weak; 3 = something strong; 4 = strong; 5 = very strong.
  • Rate the importance of each force on a similar scale: 1 = not at all important; 2 = not very important; 3 = something important; 4 = important and 5 = very important.
7. Summary of results

Add the results of the driving forces, both in strength and importance. Also, add those of the restrictive forces.

Which group scores the highest? Driving or restrictive?

Visually we can transfer the results of the matrices of steps 5 and 6 to a joint matrix and observe which are the enhancers and inhibitors that most affect our decision process.

8. If you decide to go ahead, how will you handle each restraining force?

Finally, suppose you decide to proceed with the action based on the results obtained. In that case, it is crucial to plan how to deal with possible inhibitors because the restraining forces will not suddenly disappear. Perhaps over time, and if your action is giving good results, these forces will be reduced or lose importance, but they will present themselves at the beginning of the project. They may end up depleting your reserve of promoters or facilitators.

The proposed tool helps us rationalize decision-making without neglecting the emotional part that is essential in any decision process. It is part of hot cognition, which combines the basic psychological processes of cognition and emotion within the framework of social psychology proposed by Lewin.