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.

Force-Field AnalysisDescriptionAnalysisImplicationsApplicationsExamples
1. Identify the Driving Forces (DF)Force-Field Analysis begins by identifying the driving forces that support the desired change or goal.– List and describe factors, individuals, or elements that are pushing for or advocating the change. – Consider both internal and external drivers of change.– Provides clarity on the positive forces that are propelling the change or goal forward. – Helps in understanding and harnessing supportive factors.– Identifying factors that encourage employees to adopt new technology in a workplace. – Recognizing external market trends that favor a product launch.Driving Forces Example: Employee enthusiasm and increased customer demand for a new product.
2. Identify the Restraining Forces (RF)Identify the restraining forces that act as barriers or obstacles to the desired change or goal.– List and describe factors, individuals, or elements that are resisting or hindering the change. – Identify potential sources of resistance and barriers to change.– Highlights the negative or inhibiting forces that oppose the change or goal. – Identifies potential challenges and barriers to be addressed or mitigated.– Recognizing employee resistance to a new organizational structure. – Identifying regulatory hurdles that may impede a project’s progress.Restraining Forces Example: Employee fear of job insecurity and regulatory compliance challenges.
3. Assign Weights and Scores (WS)Assign weights or scores to both driving and restraining forces based on their perceived significance.– Rate each driving force and restraining force on a numerical scale (e.g., 1 to 5) to reflect their impact or importance. – Consider the relative strength of each force.– Quantifies the relative influence of each force in the analysis. – Provides a basis for prioritizing forces and determining their net effect.– Assigning weights to factors affecting the success of a strategic project. – Scoring the importance of various stakeholders’ opinions in a decision-making process.Weight and Score Example: Giving a driving force a score of 4 and a restraining force a score of 3 based on their relative impact.
4. Calculate the Net Force (NF)Calculate the net force by subtracting the total score of restraining forces from the total score of driving forces.– Sum up the scores of all driving forces. – Sum up the scores of all restraining forces. – Subtract the total restraining force score from the total driving force score.– Provides a quantitative measure of the overall strength of forces driving or restraining the change or goal. – Indicates whether the net force favors the desired change or opposes it.– Calculating the net force for a project’s success based on the weights and scores of various influencing factors. – Assessing the net force for a company’s decision to enter a new market, considering both market opportunities and risks.Net Force Calculation Example: Total driving forces score of 18 minus total restraining forces score of 10 results in a net force of 8 in favor of the change.
5. Analyze the Balance and Implications (BI)Analyze the balance between driving and restraining forces and consider the implications for decision-making.– Evaluate whether the net force is positive (favoring the change) or negative (opposing the change). – Examine the strength of the net force in relation to the significance of the change or goal.– Helps in decision-making by indicating whether the forces are aligned or in conflict. – Guides strategies to strengthen driving forces or address restraining forces.– Assessing whether the forces favor the adoption of a new organizational culture. – Determining whether market conditions support the launch of a new product.Balance Analysis Example: Recognizing that the net force is strongly positive, indicating strong support for the change.
6. Develop Action Plans and Strategies (AP)Based on the analysis, develop action plans and strategies to leverage driving forces and mitigate restraining forces.– Formulate specific actions, initiatives, or interventions to strengthen driving forces. – Identify measures to address or mitigate the impact of restraining forces.– Guides the development of strategies to maximize support and minimize resistance to change or the achievement of a goal. – Supports the implementation of targeted actions to achieve the desired outcome.– Developing a change management plan to enhance employee buy-in and engagement. – Creating a marketing strategy to address customer concerns and barriers to product adoption.Action Plan Example: Implementing a training program to enhance employee skills and reduce resistance to a new technology.

Perform a Force-Field Analysis

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.

Additional Case Studies

Example 1: Implementing a Remote Work Policy

Driving Forces:

  • Improved employee morale and job satisfaction.
  • Access to a broader talent pool not restricted by geographical location.
  • Cost savings on office utilities and rent.
  • Flexible schedules leading to increased productivity.

Hindering Forces:

  • Lack of face-to-face communication may hamper team cohesion.
  • Potential security risks with home networks.
  • Difficulty in monitoring employee performance.
  • Some roles may not be suitable for remote work.

Example 2: Launching a New Product Line

Driving Forces:

  • Potential to tap into a new market segment.
  • Increase in overall company revenues.
  • Competitive advantage if the product is innovative.
  • Enhanced brand visibility and reputation.

Hindering Forces:

  • High initial investment and R&D costs.
  • Risk of product failure if not accepted by the target audience.
  • Training staff to produce, market, and support the new product.
  • Potential cannibalization of existing products.

Example 3: Adopting Green and Sustainable Business Practices

Driving Forces:

  • Positive brand image and increased customer loyalty.
  • Cost savings in the long run due to energy efficiency.
  • Access to tax incentives and grants.
  • Moral responsibility to protect the environment.

Hindering Forces:

  • High initial investment in sustainable infrastructure.
  • Resistance from stakeholders used to traditional methods.
  • Short term increase in operational costs.
  • Potential need for retraining staff.

Example 4: Expanding Business Internationally

Driving Forces:

  • Access to larger markets and increased customer base.
  • Diversification of revenue streams.
  • Learning from international best practices.
  • Enhanced global reputation and brand recognition.

Hindering Forces:

  • Navigating different regulatory and cultural landscapes.
  • High costs associated with international expansion.
  • Potential language and communication barriers.
  • Risk of business failure in unfamiliar markets.

Example 5: Upgrading to a New Technology System

Driving Forces:

  • Increased efficiency and productivity.
  • Competitive advantage with state-of-the-art technology.
  • Better data analytics and insights.
  • Enhanced customer experience.

Hindering Forces:

  • High costs of purchasing and implementing new technology.
  • Downtime during the transition period.
  • Resistance from employees used to the old system.
  • Training costs and potential for errors during the learning phase.

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.

Key Highlights

  • Force-Field Analysis: A decision-making tool developed by Kurt Lewin to quantify factors that support or oppose a change initiative in a business.
  • Dynamic and Interactive Forces: Lewin argues that businesses have opposing forces that work together, and for successful change, driving forces must be stronger than hindering forces.
  • Change Implementation: Change can be achieved by either strengthening driving forces or weakening hindering forces to disrupt the equilibrium that maintains the status quo.
  • Steps of the Analysis:
    1. Define the problem and involve key stakeholders.
    2. Generate a list of driving and hindering forces by considering supporters and opposers of the change and identifying risks, constraints, and benefits.
    3. Organize driving forces on the left and hindering forces on the right, with the proposed change in the center.
    4. Rate each force on a scale and sum the ratings to determine the dominant forces.
    5. Assess change viability and take action by weakening hindering forces or strengthening driving forces.
  • Driving Forces: Encourage change and support the desired goal, such as recruitment, market conditions, technology, competition, incentives, and external factors like politics and trade agreements.
  • Hindering Forces: Inhibit progress toward the goal, like fear of failure, inflexible management, costs, unqualified employees, and regulations.
  • Force-Field Analysis Case Study: An example of a company’s internal analysis to adopt a new marketing strategy and identify driving and restraining forces to prioritize strategy execution.
  • Importance: The force-field analysis helps businesses understand the factors influencing change, enabling them to develop strategies to address hindering forces and leverage driving forces for successful implementation.

How do you perform a Force-Field analysis?

What is Force Field Analysis with example?

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

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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.

Business Valuation

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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.

Monte Carlo Analysis

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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.

CATWOE Analysis

The CATWOE analysis is a problem-solving strategy that asks businesses to look at an issue from six different perspectives. The CATWOE analysis is an in-depth and holistic approach to problem-solving because it enables businesses to consider all perspectives. This often forces management out of habitual ways of thinking that would otherwise hinder growth and profitability. Most importantly, the CATWOE analysis allows businesses to combine multiple perspectives into a single, unifying solution.

VTDF Framework

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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.

Comparable 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.

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.

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.

Business Analysis

Business analysis is a research discipline that helps driving change within an organization by identifying the key elements and processes that drive value. Business analysis can also be used in Identifying new business opportunities or how to take advantage of existing business opportunities to grow your business in the marketplace.

Financial Structure

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Financial Modeling

Financial modeling involves the analysis of accounting, finance, and business data to predict future financial performance. Financial modeling is often used in valuation, which consists of estimating the value in dollar terms of a company based on several parameters. Some of the most common financial models comprise discounted cash flows, the M&A model, and the CCA model.

Value Investing

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Buffet Indicator

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Post-Mortem Analysis

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Retrospective Analysis

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Root Cause Analysis

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Blindspot Analysis


Break-even Analysis

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Decision Analysis

Stanford University Professor Ronald A. Howard first defined decision analysis as a profession in 1964. Over the ensuing decades, Howard has supervised many doctoral theses on the subject across topics including nuclear waste disposal, investment planning, hurricane seeding, and research strategy. Decision analysis (DA) is a systematic, visual, and quantitative decision-making approach where all aspects of a decision are evaluated before making an optimal choice.

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.

STEEP Analysis

The STEEP analysis is a tool used to map the external factors that impact an organization. STEEP stands for the five key areas on which the analysis focuses: socio-cultural, technological, economic, environmental/ecological, and political. Usually, the STEEP analysis is complementary or alternative to other methods such as SWOT or PESTEL analyses.

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.

Activity-Based Management

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PMESII-PT Analysis

PMESII-PT is a tool that helps users organize large amounts of operations information. PMESII-PT is an environmental scanning and monitoring technique, like the SWOT, PESTLE, and QUEST analysis. Developed by the United States Army, used as a way to execute a more complex strategy in foreign countries with a complex and uncertain context to map.

SPACE Analysis

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Lotus Diagram

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Functional Decomposition

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Multi-Criteria Analysis

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Strategic Analysis

Strategic analysis is a process to understand the organization’s environment and competitive landscape to formulate informed business decisions, to plan for the organizational structure and long-term direction. Strategic planning is also useful to experiment with business model design and assess the fit with the long-term vision of the business.

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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