A Brief Overview of Force Field Analysis for Business



Whilst it might sound like something that has come straight from the pages of a science fiction novel, force field analysis is actually an extremely valuable tool when applied to business problem-solving or decision-making processes. In fact, force field analysis is just one of several useful techniques explored in Maguire Training's comprehensive and informative Problem Solving Models course. This practical business skills training module teaches delegates how to utilise a number of problem solving models enabling them to think more clearly and methodically through a problem or challenge.

To help you better understand force field analysis and its application in the business environment, here Maguire Training offers you a brief overview of this useful methodology.


What is force field analysis?

Developed in the 1940s by the German-American social psychologist Kurt Lewin, force field analysis provides a framework for identifying and evaluating of each of the different factors (forces) which may positively or negatively impact on a particular problem or situation.

Analysing and weighing-up the combined impact of the 'driving forces' against that of the 'restraining forces' helps you assess the likely success of any proposed solution or course of action and to make an informed and reasoned decision as to whether to proceed with it or not.


How is force field analysis useful in a business context?

Force field analysis establishes the 'bigger picture' in any situation where a business change is required to overcome a problem. Two specific benefits are derived from the analysis. Firstly, it immediately tells you whether the solution or change under analysis is currently viable or not, and secondly it allows you to minimise or eliminate the factors which effectively restrain your plan and enhance those which support it.


What is meant by 'forces'?

Examples of the 'forces' which should be considered for their positive or negative influence on a particular business change or problem solution might include legislation, resource availability, cash flow, the needs, desires or attitudes of employees or business associates, company policies or business relationships. Each particular situation will have its own unique set of forces which can be evaluated in order to facilitate the decision-making process.


How do I conduct a force field analysis?

In its simplest form, the force field analysis method can be applied in a particular situation by completing the following steps:

  1. Describe the current situation and the desired future situation,
  2. Conclude the outcome of taking no action to change the current situation.
  3. List each of the 'driving' and 'restraining' forces that have an impact upon the changes that need to be made.
  4. Assign a score between 1 and 10 to each restraining force in accordance with its negative impact and to each driving force according to its positive impact.
  5. Chart the forces in descending order of their relative impacts, listing driving forces on the left and restraining forces on the right.
  6. Explore the ways in which driving forces can be maximised and negative forces minimised and build a plan around the necessary actions to be taken.


Having completed this analysis it should become clear which of the actions that you would need to take in order to successfully drive forward your business change or solution. Alternatively the analysis may lead you to conclude that it is less disruptive and more beneficial to maintain the status quo or seek an alternative solution.


As explained, this is merely a brief introduction to force field analysis and its many benefits for business. The subject is explored in far greater detail in Maguire Training's excellent Problem Solving Models course which, for the convenience of delegates unable to attend training away from the workplace is also offered as online training which can be accessed from any internet-connected computer or device via Maguire Training's innovative E-learning system.

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