The Force Field Analysis is a Walker Hill favourite. Developed by Kurt Lewin in the 1940s, and still going strong, it helps determine forces for and against change. It allows us to take an opportunity for change (for today’s purposes a ‘change proposal’) and develop effective strategies to achieve the greatest results.
As you’re working through this exercise (especially at Step 4), it’s important to remember the following insights from the Walker Hill team:
Insight 1: We believe the forces against change are like a ceiling. If you let them sit there, the positive changes can only go so far (hit their head on the ceiling so to speak), so if in doubt where to start, focus on the negatives. Grow that ceiling so that the positives can have the maximum result.
Insight 2: If you’re in doubt with where to start with the strategies, pick the easy ones (preferably the negatives as per point 1). The aim is to progress over perfection in this area as strategies can always be fine-tuned before being implemented.
How long does it take to do?
To get the best out of your force field, set aside a solid hour. Note though, this exercise can go deep so don’t be worried if you find yourself a few hours in and still powering away.
How do I use it?
Step 1: Describe your change proposal.
The first step to completing this tool is to be clear on what you’re wanting to change. Therefore, the first step is to define the change that you’re thinking about.
A popular, but no so fun, example would be ‘Upgrading our IT technology’. But we suggest going more specific to get the best out of your analysis. So, let’s go with ‘Upgrading our IT technology to a cloud-based environment’. See Below:
Step 2: Complete the forces FOR your change in the arrows on the left.
The forces for change are considered positive. Ask yourself:
- What can the business do to make positive changes to the proposal?
- What changes will drive positive change?
- What changes will improve on the proposal?
You will want to evaluate both internal (eg. Team moral and increased efficiencies) and external (eg. Faster service for clients, portal access) factors. As you determine the forces for your change, note them in the arrows on the left.
Step 3: Complete the forces AGAINST your change in the arrows on the left.
The forces against change are considered negative. Ask yourself:
- What can the business reduce to make positive changes to the proposal?
- What is in the way of making positive changes?
- What is stopping you from change?
This step is essentially the same as Step 2, except you are determining the forces against your change, what is basically in your way to getting the best result. Again, consider both internal and external factors and write them in the arrows on the right.
Step 4: Valuing each force
With your forces now outlined, think about strategies that you could implement to help increase the forces for, or neutralise the forces against, change. Note these strategies underneath each of the forces that you’ve thought of and aim for at least three each.
Once you have all your strategies written down, it’s now time to put a value to each strategy. Using the scale at the bottom of each page, rate each of the strategies from 1-5 (1 being the least hindrance or benefit, and 5 being the most).
Now pick the four top ranked strategies and start implementing. Once you have ticked them off, pick the next four strategies on your list. Keep this exercise going until you’ve implemented your change and combatted your against forces.