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Force Field Analysis

Date: September 9 2001

What Is Force Field Analysis?

To better facilitate change and improvement, it helps to recognize the driving forces that will move change forward and the restraining forces that block progress. If the restraining forces are stronger than the driving forces change will not happen. How can you know if that’s the case? The tool used to understand and manage conflicting forces encountered during organization change is called Force Field Analysis.

Force Field Analysis begins by making a two-column list of restraining and driving forces.

For example, if we developed a project plan to improve a call center that had low customer satisfaction, we might have to confront issues of staffing, process changes that impact different shifts and sites, management concerns about increased costs, and so on. Therefore, the first step in a Force Field Analysis might look like this:

Restraining Forces

Driving Forces

Initial increase in cost of handling incoming calls – mgt concerns

Reduces training cost

Potential lack of backup cross site

Customer gets to an expert more quickly

Administrative overhead is greater

Maximizes resources

24x7 coverage concerns – third shift coverage

Facilitates learning & shared knowledge

May require more staff

Faster ramp-up of new people

The next step is to find ways to weaken the restraining forces and strengthen the driving forces.

Weakening Actions

Restraining Forces

Driving Forces

Strengthening Actions

Schedule reserve personnel as required. Cost will reduce with economies of scale.

Initial increase in cost of handling incoming calls – mgt concerns

Reduces training cost

Specialty training required only for support personnel who need it

Management to develop guidelines for specialties which will provide additional backup at all sites

Potential lack of backup cross-site

Customer gets to an expert more quickly

Measure and monitor service levels to allow more dynamic phone coverage

Spread admin jobs across the organization at all hours

Administrative overhead is greater

Maximizes resources among all technical specialties

Use internship program to make sure each team member is knowledgeable

Improve cross site team skills (technical training) to ensure good coverage at night

24x7 coverage concerns – third shift coverage

Facilitates learning & shared knowledge

Train personnel cross-site to share issues and customers.

Adjust cross-site scheduling by blocks of time instead of by hours. Use Asian affiliate as needed.

May require more staff

Faster ramp-up of new people. Lower cost in the long run.

Improve cross-site team skills, issue sharing, and mentoring.

Naturally, many different issues and concerns would have to be analyzed. The point is to understand what’s working against us and how can we lessen its impact. Also, what is working in our favor and how can we use it to succeed.

Where is it used?

Anytime efforts are made to improve business processes it requires organizational change. The necessary change may prompt a struggle between forces that are seeking to upset the status quo and those that want to maintain it.

Therefore, before a plan is implemented Force Field Analysis can be used to understand what the barriers to success are and how to overcome them. It is applicable to any type of project work or general improvement effort.

What are the limitations?

Force Field Analysis requires time and effort to understand all the repercussions of a planned change. Everyone impacted and their concerns must be considered, analyzed, and planed for.

What HR needs to know

Force Field Analysis helps facilitate change and makes it less painful because:

  • It forces people to think together about all the facets of a desired change.
  • It encourages creative thinking.
  • It facilitates agreement about the relative priority of factors on each side of the force field.
  • It provides a starting point for action.


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