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Force Field Analysis

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Force Field Analysis In this article we would like to explore one approach toward problems of social engineering and to see how it might apply to the kinds of problems we find in the school setting. Suppose, for example, we feel that there is not enough teacher-pupil planning in the classrooms in our high school, and we want to see a change from the more teacher-centered methods of working with a class to methods using more pupil participation in planning. As a group of interested teachers, how can we begin to tackle a problem such as this? There seem to be four general steps which must be taken if the changes which are desired are to be effected: (1) Analyzing the present situation (2) Determining the changes which are required, (3) Making the changes indicated by the analysis of the situation, and (4) Stabilizing the new situation so that it will be maintained. Let us look at these steps in detail to see what they may imply. ANALYZING THE PRESENT SITUATION Before effective plans for change can be made the present state of affairs must be defined as accurately as possible. This is the step familiar to most of us under various names such as "diagnosis" or "definition of the problem." The specific question that we might ask about our problem is, "Why don't we change our teaching methods, or what are the forces which are keeping our methods in their present 'groove'?" At first glance we oft feel that the present condition exists because no one has the energy to make it any different-there is just too much "inertia." Yet, as we explore further it becomes clearer that there may be some very strong forces preventing substantial changes of any kind from occurring, [as well as equal forces pressing toward change]. In our example, there might be several forces which point toward more teacher-pupil planning in the classroom: (a)


A simple model such as this one can provide a fresh and innovative approach to a perennial problem. The Lewin Model operates as follows: In any problem situation, the existing condition (status quo) has been reached because of a number of opposing forces. Some of these forces (Drivers) push toward a solution to the problem. Other forces (Restrainers) inhibit improvement or solution of the problem. When the strength of the Drivers is approximately equal to the strength of the Restrainers, a balance or status quo is apparent. Until the relative strength of the forces is changed, the problem will continue to persist. To apply the model to any problem, follow these steps. The times indicated represent minimum discussion times. Step 1 - Carefully and fully specify the problem (status quo). A problem may be defined as the difference between what currently exists and what should be. (5 minutes) Step 2 - Define your objectives. What will the situation be like when it is solved? (5 minutes) Step 3 - torm (Brainswithout initial analysis) the Driving Forces and the Restraining Forces that contribute to the problem. (10 minutes) Step 4 - Analyze these forces more fully. Develop a strategy for strengthening the Driving Forces under your control and weakening the Restraining Forces you can realistically do something about. (15 minutes) Step 5 - Consider your strategy against your objectives. Will your problem solving strategy promote a change in the status quo? (5 minutes) Example Problem; A group of store management personnel had identified poor customer service as a critical problem to be solved. After completing Steps 1 and 2, they might brainstorm the possible Drivers and Restrainers that were contributing to the Status Quo, in the following manner. STEP 1: ANALYZE THE STATUS QUO. Begin your problem solving by analyzing the current situation (Status Quo). * What facts cause this group to believe a problem exists?


Principles All organizations tend to resist change. Understanding the status quo and the real motivations helps in facilitating change. Force Field Analysis addresses the psychology of change. Its apparent simplicity should not lead people to underestimate its usefulness. Many technically superb improvements have failed to see the light of day because of lack of attention to the less tangible issues. Method 1. Identify the stakeholders, those with an interest or involvement in the process being improved. 2. Clarify the proposed improvement with the stakeholders. 3. Draw a line down the center of the page or flipchart. Imagine this to be a sheet of steel with forces acting on both sides. On the far right-hand side of the page is the improved situation. Forces acting on the left-hand side of the line are driving towards the desired state and forces on the right-hand side are restraining progress. 4. Brainstorm the forces driving change. Represent them as arrows pushing the line towards the desired improvement. 5. Brainstorm the forces restraining change. Represent them as arrows pushing the line away from the desired improvement. 6. Review the Force Field Analysis. Identify ways to build on the driving forces and ways to reduce or remove the restraining forces. Guidelines Ensure good stakeholder representation and encourage them to be as honest and as frank as possible. Identify all forces no matter how insignificant they may appear. The tool is to identify feelings and fears, not scientifically-proven issues. If one of the stakeholders feels it, it may be an important issue. It can be useful to prioritize forces. Eighty percent of the restraining will be done by 20 percent of the restraining forces. Eighty percent of the driving will be done by 20 percent of the driving forces. Discuss the relative magnitudes of these forces and vary the arrows' lengths or thickness accordingly. Forces will come from both inside and outside of the organization. It is sometimes useful to distinguish between internal and external forces. Review the diagram marking internal forces with an I and external forces with an E.

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