A force-field analysis identifies the forces that either aid in or are detrimental to arriving at a desired outcome. A scenario plays out as a balance between two forces: one attempting to alter the current state and the other attempting to keep it the same. When these opposing forces are equal to each other, no change occurs. Thus, to orchestrate changes, the force with a motive to change must be greater than the force maintaining the status quo. The force-field analysis attempts to uncover means of diminishing forces that impede change and foster those that encourage it.
To determine forces that may prevent change from occurring.
To illuminate and foster forces that cultivate change.
When a change is planned.
1. WRITE THE DESIRED CHANGE along the top of a whiteboard or flip chart and draw a vertical line underneath it.
2. BRAINSTORM ALL THE DRIVING FORCES that foster the change or facilitate the problem. Record each on the left side of the line. Determine the strength of each force and draw arrows to the right from each word, where the size or length of the arrow corresponds to the strength of the associated force.
3. BRAINSTORM ALL THE RESTRAINING FORCES that inhibit the actions occurrence, or diminish the chances of the problem occurring. Record each on the right side of the line. As in step 2, determine the strength of each force, but this time draw a left-facing arrow corresponding to each forces strength.
4. DETERMINE METHODS OF ELIMINATING OR REDUCING THE RESTRAINING FORCES if it is a change that is desired. If instead a problem is being considered, determine how to lessen the driving forces. Pay closest attention to the strongest forces.
Allows a team to anticipate potential resistance to a change, allowing them to maintain their focus and grounding.
Easy way to discuss objections individuals have and evaluate their concerns.
Deciding on the strength of the forces is fairly subjective.
University Research Co. LLC. Health care improvement project: force-field analysis. 2008 [cited 2009 July 28];
Bauer J, Duffy G, Westcott R. Improvement tools. The quality improvement handbook. 2nd ed. Milwaukee, WI: ASQ Quality Press; 2006. p. 109-48.
Tague N. The tools. In: O'Mara P, editor. The quality toolbox. 2nd ed. Milwaukee, WI: ASQ Quality Press; 2005. p. 93-521.