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Thread: Action Strategy: Force Field Analysis - A Strategic Approach to Goal Planning

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    Action Strategy: Force Field Analysis - A Strategic Approach to Goal Planning

    Force Field Analysis: A Strategic Approach to Goal Planning


    Force Field Analysis is one of many goal planning techniques that you can use as a small business owner or online marketer.
    Often you will find that your approach to goal planning and goal achievement proves to be inadequate or incomplete (the evidence lies in the fact that you may not achieve your goals). The beauty of Force Field Analysis for goal planning is that it offers a strategic way to approach your goals. It is easy to use, but incredibly powerful. It can give you new insights into what is getting in the road of your goals, including lack of awareness of your strengths and the inability to capitalise on them. It will also help you identify the things that you need to work on and strategies you need to employ to achieve your goals.
    I’ve used this approach, as an organizational consultant, since the early 1980′s with small business owners, managers in organisations (public and private sectors), university faculties and doctoral/masters students. I have also used Force Field Analysis with colleagues in action learning groups as we planned our career transitions.
    [Image credit: Goal by Sean MacEntee]
    How to use Force Field Analysis for goal planning

    Force Field Analysis was first used by Kurt Lewin in 1946 when he was working with minority social groups. What struck him was how people were becoming stuck in their disadvantaged position in society. He needed a way to help them move beyond where they were now – to achieve their life goals.
    Lewin was acutely aware that many things conspired to maintain the status quo. He realized that what gave effect to the current situation for these people was a group of hindering and helping forces that created the current equilibrium represented by the status quo. He recognized that if you analyzed these forces and put in place strategies to address them, you could change the equilibrium and move towards your goal. Hence the name, Force Field Analysis – analysis of the helping and hindering forces within a particular arena (field). Lewin was able to create major social change by using this method with people who were suffering social disadvantage.
    So it is with any goal you wish to pursue, whether expanding your small business, developing your small business marketing online or improving personal productivity. Once you identify what is helping you move towards your goal (helping forces) and what is hindering you (hindering forces), you can plan concrete strategies to address these forces.
    Specifically, you can work out ways to strengthen the helping forces and weaken the hindering forces – thus changing the equilibrium of the current situation and enabling you to move towards your goal. It’s this two-way approach that creates the major shift. So it is not enough just to work on the hindering forces, you also need to strengthen the helping forces.
    Force Field Analysis: An Example of Goal Planning

    Let’s assume that you have set a goal, ”To be effective in small business marketing online”. I have developed an example Force Field Analysis based on an imaginary set of forces (helping and hindering) that are impacting on your goal achievement. Ideally, you would do this analysis with at least one other person, but you can definitely do it by yourself.
    So what you have here is the second rung of goal planning - you have a goal in mind and now you have to establish sub-goals and strategies to move forward. Force Field Analysis helps you to do this as illustrated in the example below:
    FORCE FIELD ANALYSISGOAL: To be effective in small business marketing online
    Hindering Forces
    Helping Forces
    1. lack of time
    1. good brand recognition
    2. lack of knowledge
    2. motivated
    3. don’t know where to start 3. have a good speaking voice
    4. not a good writer 4. have friends who are good at small business marketing
    5. have no presence on social networks 5. access to good online resources
    6. don’t know how to create a WordPress blog 6. prepared to have a go
    So now you have to decide which helping forces you will strengthen and which hindering forces you will work to reduce. So some options might be:
    In relation to the helping forces, you might employ two or more of these strategies to strengthen the things that are working for you:
    1. develop a podcast blog (to build on your speaking capability)
    2. set clear, achievable milestones to maintain your motivation
    3. use specialists in online branding to strengthen your brand online
    4. talk to your friends about what works for them
    5. study up on your online resources with a particular focus and goal in mind
    6. join a small business online forum or group on one of the social networks.

    To reduce the impact of hindering forces you might decide to do two or more of the following:
    1. use your online resources to build your knowledge (in a focused way)
    2. purchase a resource that covers “small business marketing online”
    3. outsource your writing
    4. start with one social network that you are comfortable using, e.g. Squidoo or LinkedIn, and build from there
    5. outsource the design of your WordPress blog to a web design service.

    Force Field Analysis has many applications including evaluation of outcomes and processes. explains how to use Force Field Analysis for decision making and offers a free worksheet for using the tool.
    Force Field Analysis offers a comprehensive approach to goal planning and has been proven over many years to help small business organisations and individuals achieve their goals.


    About Ron Passfield
    Ron Passfield, PhD, is Marketing Director for his family-owned, human resource consulting business, Merit Solutions Australia. Subscribe to Ron's free e-course onimproving personal productivity to achieve more with your small business marketing. Ron recommends SEOPraxis .com for quality, affordable web services - Wordpress website design, SEO and web hosting.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Force Field Analysis

    Analyzing the Pressures For and Against Change

    How to use Force Field Analysis,
    with James Manktelow & Amy Carlson.

    Force Field Analysis is a useful decision-making technique. It helps you make a decision by analyzing the forces for and against a change, and it helps you communicate the reasoning behind your decision.

    You can use it for two purposes: to decide whether to go ahead with the change; and to increase your chances of success, by strengthening the forces supporting change and weakening those against it.
    About the Tool

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

    You use the tool by listing all of the factors (forces) for and against your decision or change. You then score each factor based on its influence, and add up the scores for and against change to find out which of these wins.

    You can then look at strengthening the forces that support the change and managing the forces against the change, so that it's more successful.

    How to Use the Tool

    To carry out a Force Field Analysis, use a blank sheet of paper or whiteboard, or download our worksheet.

    Then describe your plan or proposal for change in a box in the middle of the paper. List the forces for change in a column on the left-hand side, and the forces against change in a column on the right-hand side.

    As you do this, consider the following questions:

    • What business benefit will the change deliver?
    • Who supports the change? Who is against it? Why?
    • How easy will it be to make the change? Do you have enough time and resources to make it work?
    • What costs are involved?
    • What other business processes will be affected by the change?
    • What are the risks ?

    Tools such as the Futures Wheel , Impact Analysis , "What If" Analysis , and Stakeholder Analysis can help with this step.

    It's important to identify as many of the factors that will influence the change as you can. Where appropriate, involve other people, such as team members or experts in your organization.

    Next, assign a score to each force, from, say, 1 (weak) to 5 (strong), and then add up the scores for each column (for and against).

    For a visual representation of the influence that each force has, draw arrows around them. Use bigger arrows for the forces that will have a greater influence on the change, and smaller arrows for forces that will have less of an influence.

    For example, imagine that you're planning to install new manufacturing equipment in your factory. You might draw up a Force Field Analysis like the one in Figure 1, below:

    Figure 1 – Example Force Field Analysis

    (Click image to view full size.)
    Using Your Analysis

    Once you've done your Force Field Analysis, you can use it in two ways:

    1. To decide whether or not to move forward with the decision or change.
    2. To think about how you can strengthen the forces that support the change and weaken the forces opposing it, so that the change is more successful.

    If you had to implement the project in the example above, the analysis might suggest a number of changes that you could make to the initial plan. For instance, you could:

    • Train staff ("Cost" +1) to minimize the fear of technology ("Staff uncomfortable with new technology" -2).
    • Show staff that change is necessary for business survival (new force that supports the change, +2).
    • Show staff that new machines would introduce variety and interest to their jobs (new force that supports the change, +1).
    • Raise wages to reflect new productivity ("Cost" +1, "Loss of overtime" -2).
    • Install slightly different machines with filters that eliminate pollution ("Impact on environment" -1).

    These changes would swing the balance from 11:10 (against the plan), to 13:8 (in favor of the plan).

    Tip 1:
    Some factors – such as those affecting people's health and safety – don't fit well with this approach. Make sure that you deal with these appropriately, whatever the outcome of your analysis.

    Tip 2:
    Bear in mind that while Force Field Analysis helps you understand the impact of different factors on your decision or change, it can be quite subjective. If you're making an important decision, use it alongside other decision-making tools such as Grid Analysis , Decision Tree Analysis , and Cost/Benefit

    Tip 3:
    Don't underestimate how much work a Force Field Analysis can involve. We've used a simple example here, but there will be many factors that you'll need to consider for complex decisions and changes.

    Key Points

    Force Field Analysis helps you think about the pressures for and against a decision or a change. The tool was developed by Kurt Lewin.

    To carry out a Force Field Analysis, describe your plan or proposal in the middle of a piece of paper or whiteboard. Then list all of the forces for change in a column on the left-side, and all of the forces against change in a column on the right-side.

    Score each factor, and add up the scores for each column. You can then decide whether or not to move forward with the change.

    Alternatively, you can use your analysis to think about how you can strengthen the forces that support the change and weaken the forces opposing it, so that the change is more successful.

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