Force Field Analysis Problem Solving

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First they interviewed the plant manager, then the other managers and supervisors, then, in a strange move, It is hard for us to understand how revolutionary this was in 1939! His conclusion: a simple process like decision-making, which takes only a few moments, is able to affect workers’ conduct for a long time. Lewin had observed that the output of a worker was ‘quasi-stationary’ and existed, not in a vacuum, but in a constantly-shifting ‘field of forces,’ some helping and some hindering the desired change.

One can imagine some managers and supervisors thinking, “Oh, great. The making of a decision seems to have a ‘freezing’ effect, Lewin hypothesized, which is partly due to the individual’s tendency to ‘stick to his decisions’ and partly due to their wanting to be a part of ‘the commitment of the group.’ The consultants then had the small group of involved workers plan their own hourly production rates by using ‘pacing cards.’ This group hit and maintained an amazing pace, going from 67 units prior to the experiment, to 82 and stabilizing there. Theoretically, changes in performance could be achieved by either a) strengthening a ‘driving’ force, or b) weakening a ‘restraining’ force.

A Final Tip: If doing this as a group exercise, find a room with a large blank wall to hang the flip-chart paper, and involve a neutral facilitator to write out the group’s comments and opinions.

This will allow all team members to engage, focus and analyse the group’s conversation.

The analysis of these forces – both the (those resisting change) – helps to determine an appropriate plan of action.

Hud Dissertation - Force Field Analysis Problem Solving

Lewin’s original model and its methodology can be seen here.Force field analysis requires the full participation of everyone involved to provide the accurate information required for an effective analysis.This can be a disadvantage when full participation isn't possible, resulting in an analysis that doesn't provide a realistic picture of the supporting and opposing forces.In response to an urgent request from the manager at Harwood Manufacturing Company in rural Virginia for help in raising production levels, John R. French (an external consultant from the University of Michigan and dyed-in-the-wool Lewianian) went to see what could be done.Working with an internal personnel manager, Lester Coch, they designed and carried out what was probably the first ‘action research process.’ Harwood, a new pajama-making facility, was losing money rapidly, with very high turnover and absenteeism, in spite of higher wages and greater benefits than workers were making elsewhere.One of the key things to keep in mind when using force field analysis is that the analysis developed is entirely dependent upon the skill level and knowledge of the group working on the analysis.In most cases, force field analysis is based on assumptions, not facts; even if the assumptions are based on accumulated data, the interpretation of the data shouldn't be construed as being objective within the overall process of evaluating the driving and restraining forces.Supervisors there had tried every carrot and stick motivation and reward system they knew, all with little or no effect.different process, one that you will recognize as standard practice for OD facilitators today. In support of this process they also recommended: that affect them.It’s strictly a personal preference, but I find the Force Field Analysis (instead of the SWOT Analysis) is more ideal for the field of communications because the situational columns help define the existing, preferred and worst mindsets or perceptions of important audiences.In turn, this helps to identify the key communications opportunities to leverage and the communications issues to address.


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