Kurt Lewin’s force field analysis (FFA) is an excellent model to analyse a situation that requires change. It investigates the balance of power in a given change management situation, identifying the key stakeholders in the situation and how to influence them to drive or accept the change. This model is not only used in the change management of organisations but is also frequently used in the context of executive coaching when an individual seeks personal change.
This change management tool requires the user to think very hard about all the individual forces that would be of consequence to drive the change required, and which forces would resist this change. These forces can be a mix of people, values, attitudes, habits and/or customs, among others.
Creating Your Force Field Analysis Diagram
Each force would be described and given some value of strength in whichever direction (for or against). These values or scores should be assigned according to a standard scale of 1-10 or 1-5, with 1 being the weakest strength and 10 (or 5) being the strongest. The diagram below shows an example.
Using your Force Field Analysis Diagram
Once the diagram is completed, one can look at the total score on each side to get a general overview of what the likelihood is that this proposed change will happen (or happen as wished). One would then look at each force and ask the following questions:
- What can I do to increase any of the driving forces for change so that the change can happen quicker and/or more effectively? Is the effort worth it?
- What can I do to reduce any of the resisting forces so that the change can happen, or happen more smoothly/effectively? Is it worth it?
You should also take a look at how a change in any of the forces would affect any of the other forces. It might be that by increasing the strength of a particular driving force (for example by promoting a particular employee who is championing the change) may also increase the strength of a particular resisting force or create a new resisting force (for example colleagues’ resentment and hence resistance may increase, or a worker’s union may disagree). It is rarely the case that any one force works in isolation and is much more usual that the forces are intertwined.
What to do next, based on an example of a personal situation, such as that of wanting to lose weight:
From the above example, the resisting or restraining forces’ total seems to indicate that there is not much chance of the weight loss happening, as things stand. Therefore, the best bet would be to find ways of reducing the resisting forces further, and if possible, nudge any of the driving forces higher. One may even try to look for additional drivers to improve the motivation for change.
Here are a few solutions and thought processes that you might come up with in this situation:
Reducing the restraining forces can involve a number of strategies, such as finding substitutes to sweets with high sugar content, such as sweets with other (healthy) sweeteners. If exercising is boring, try listening to audiobooks or even watching a movie or series while on the treadmill, for example. No time? Re-evaluate your priorities and try to find a regular slot for exercise, or to prepare healthier meals. Although feeling hungry is a natural response and should be the prompt to eat something, a starving diet is never a good idea, although intermittent fasting has become increasingly popular and has arguably various health benefits (and the stomach gets used to the new routine within a few days). However, what you eat is much more important. Increasing the vegetable intake, reducing high calorie items will improve both your weight and health, for example. And veggies do not have to be boring, it just requires some preparation time and some creativity.
Before you know it, the driving force total may have been nudged up to 34 or 35 (counting the clothes you can’t wear and imagining yourself in them and how good you looked, for example), and the restraining forces may be reduced to a more manageable total of 30 or even lower. This may be what is needed to set you on your way to the SMART Goal of losing 10kg in 3 months (Learn more about SMART Goals in Edition 8 of Empowerment Through Knowledge).
Please note that the above example is far from complete and is only provided to demonstrate the application of the model.