Force-Field Analysis In A Nutshell

Social psychologist Kurt Lewin developed the force-field analysis in the 1940s. The force-field analysis is a decision-making tool used to quantify factors that support or oppose a change initiative. Lewin argued that businesses contain dynamic and interactive forces that work together in opposite directions. To institute successful change, the forces driving the change must be stronger than the forces hindering the change.

Understanding the force-field analysis

Lewin argued that businesses contain dynamic and interactive forces that work together in opposite directions.

To institute successful change, the forces driving the change must be stronger than the forces hindering the change.

Importantly, change can be achieved by either strengthening a driving force or weakening a hindering force. 

These factors are central to the force-field analysis because driving and hindering forces in equilibrium cause a business to remain stationary or stagnant.

Indeed, Lewin noted in 1948 that “to bring about any change, the balance between the forces which maintain the social self-regulation at a given level has to be upset.”

Moving through the force-field analysis process

Businesses wanting to conduct a force-field analysis should move through these steps:

Define problem and key stakeholders

Start by defining the problem and the desired future state by inviting key stakeholders to come together. 

Then, generate a list of driving and hindering forces

To stimulate idea generation, consider those who support or oppose the change, and give potential reasons for both arguments.

It’s also helpful to define a broader project’s risks, constraints, and benefits.

Most importantly, the business must have adequate resources to see the process through to completion.

Organize the driving forces on a sheet

With the list of forces, write the driving forces on the left-hand side of a sheet of paper.

Write the hindering forces on the right, with the proposed change occupying the center.

Rate each force on a scale to assess their validity

Most businesses use a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is a weak force, and 10 is a strong force.

Then, sum the ratings of both the left and right-hand sides to determine whether driving forces or hindering forces are in control. 

Assess change viability and take action

When instituting change, it is usually more cost-effective to weaken hindering forces than it is to strengthen driving forces.

For example, suppose locations with cool summers and high transport costs hinder the expansion of an ice cream business.

In that case, forces could be weakened by expansion into warmer climates in closer proximity.

Simultaneously strengthening driving forces and weakening hindering forces is also an effective strategy.

Common examples of driving and hindering forces

In the force-field analysis, driving forces that encourage change by supporting a goal or objective include:

  • Recruitment.
  • Fluctuating market conditions.
  • Technology and innovation.
  • Increased competition.
  • Incentives, rewards, or bonuses.
  • External factors such as politics, trade agreements, and shareholders.

Conversely, hindering forces that inhibit progress toward a goal include:

  • Fear of failure.
  • Outdated or inflexible management style or culture.
  • Cost.
  • Unsuitably qualified or skilled employees.
  • Environmental or economic regulation.

Force-Field Analysis Case Study

As an example of a force field analysis, imagine an internal analysis of the factors affecting a company’s adoption of a new marketing strategy to understand what forces can be leveraged to enhance the strategy.

Through the force-field analysis, a company identifies the forces driving and restraining the adoption of the new strategy so it can prioritize its overall execution.

Some of these driving forces might include factors such as the potential for increased revenue and market share, top management’s support, and the strategy’s alignment with the company’s overall goals.

The restraining forces might include increased costs, employees’ resistance to change, and potential adverse effects on the company’s reputation.

Based on the results of the force field analysis, the company might decide to focus on strengthening the driving forces and mitigating the restraining forces to successfully implement a more effective marketing strategy.

For instance, the company by providing additional training to employees to help them understand and support the new strategy and communicate the benefits of the new strategy to key stakeholders to gain their support.

Overall, the force field analysis will help the company identify the key factors driving and restraining the adoption of the enhanced marketing strategy.

And develop strategies to address those factors and successfully implement the change.

Key takeaways

  • The basic premise of the force-field analysis is that counterbalancing forces enhance the status quo in business operations, thereby inhibiting change.
  • The force-field analysis argues that driving forces encourage change while hindering forces discourage change. When the two forces are in equilibrium, a business must weaken hindering forces or strengthen driving forces – or a combination of both.
  • In the force-field analysis, common driving forces include innovation and increased competition. Common hindering forces include a lack of resources, regulation, and an outdated management structure.

To perform a force-field analysis, perform the following steps:

The Force-Field analysis is used to identify the forces driving or restraining a change or decision. That is based on the idea that change is driven by a balance of forces and that to implement a change successfully, the driving forces must be strengthened, and the restraining forces must be weakened. Take the example of a company that identifies forces behind increased revenue and market share, top management’s support, and the strategy’s alignment with the company’s overall goals, thus enhancing or restructuring its marketing strategy.

Connected Analysis Frameworks

Cynefin Framework

The Cynefin Framework gives context to decision making and problem-solving by providing context and guiding an appropriate response. The five domains of the Cynefin Framework comprise obvious, complicated, complex, chaotic domains and disorder if a domain has not been determined at all.

SWOT Analysis

A SWOT Analysis is a framework used for evaluating the business’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It can aid in identifying the problematic areas of your business so that you can maximize your opportunities. It will also alert you to the challenges your organization might face in the future.

Personal SWOT Analysis

The SWOT analysis is commonly used as a strategic planning tool in business. However, it is also well suited for personal use in addressing a specific goal or problem. A personal SWOT analysis helps individuals identify their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Pareto Analysis

The Pareto Analysis is a statistical analysis used in business decision making that identifies a certain number of input factors that have the greatest impact on income. It is based on the similarly named Pareto Principle, which states that 80% of the effect of something can be attributed to just 20% of the drivers.

Failure Mode And Effects Analysis

A failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) is a structured approach to identifying design failures in a product or process. Developed in the 1950s, the failure mode and effects analysis is one the earliest methodologies of its kind. It enables organizations to anticipate a range of potential failures during the design stage.

Blindspot Analysis

A Blindspot Analysis is a means of unearthing incorrect or outdated assumptions that can harm decision making in an organization. The term “blindspot analysis” was first coined by American economist Michael Porter. Porter argued that in business, outdated ideas or strategies had the potential to stifle modern ideas and prevent them from succeeding. Furthermore, decisions a business thought were made with care caused projects to fail because major factors had not been duly considered.

Comparable Company Analysis

A comparable company analysis is a process that enables the identification of similar organizations to be used as a comparison to understand the business and financial performance of the target company. To find comparables you can look at two key profiles: the business and financial profile. From the comparable company analysis it is possible to understand the competitive landscape of the target organization.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

A cost-benefit analysis is a process a business can use to analyze decisions according to the costs associated with making that decision. For a cost analysis to be effective it’s important to articulate the project in the simplest terms possible, identify the costs, determine the benefits of project implementation, assess the alternatives.

Agile Business Analysis

Agile Business Analysis (AgileBA) is certification in the form of guidance and training for business analysts seeking to work in agile environments. To support this shift, AgileBA also helps the business analyst relate Agile projects to a wider organizational mission or strategy. To ensure that analysts have the necessary skills and expertise, AgileBA certification was developed.

SOAR Analysis

A SOAR analysis is a technique that helps businesses at a strategic planning level to: Focus on what they are doing right. Determine which skills could be enhanced. Understand the desires and motivations of their stakeholders.

STEEPLE Analysis

The STEEPLE analysis is a variation of the STEEP analysis. Where the step analysis comprises socio-cultural, technological, economic, environmental/ecological, and political factors as the base of the analysis. The STEEPLE analysis adds other two factors such as Legal and Ethical.

Pestel Analysis

The PESTEL analysis is a framework that can help marketers assess whether macro-economic factors are affecting an organization. This is a critical step that helps organizations identify potential threats and weaknesses that can be used in other frameworks such as SWOT or to gain a broader and better understanding of the overall marketing environment.

DESTEP Analysis

A DESTEP analysis is a framework used by businesses to understand their external environment and the issues which may impact them. The DESTEP analysis is an extension of the popular PEST analysis created by Harvard Business School professor Francis J. Aguilar. The DESTEP analysis groups external factors into six categories: demographic, economic, socio-cultural, technological, ecological, and political.

Paired Comparison Analysis

A paired comparison analysis is used to rate or rank options where evaluation criteria are subjective by nature. The analysis is particularly useful when there is a lack of clear priorities or objective data to base decisions on. A paired comparison analysis evaluates a range of options by comparing them against each other.

Related Strategy Concepts: Go-To-Market StrategyMarketing StrategyBusiness ModelsTech Business ModelsJobs-To-Be DoneDesign ThinkingLean Startup CanvasValue ChainValue Proposition CanvasBalanced ScorecardBusiness Model CanvasSWOT AnalysisGrowth HackingBundlingUnbundlingBootstrappingVenture CapitalPorter’s Five ForcesPorter’s Generic StrategiesPorter’s Five ForcesPESTEL AnalysisSWOTPorter’s Diamond ModelAnsoffTechnology Adoption CurveTOWSSOARBalanced ScorecardOKRAgile MethodologyValue PropositionVTDF FrameworkBCG MatrixGE McKinsey MatrixKotter’s 8-Step Change Model.

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