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The purpose of Force Field Analysis is to list the driving and the restraining

forces of an issue so that you can take the next step—to neutralize the restraining

causes and to amplify the driving causes.

The Force Field Analysis concept was developed by the American social psychologist

Kurt Lewin based on the premise that any problem or situation is a

result of the forces acting upon it. The forces acting upon a problem are issues

of two kinds: driving forces and restraining forces. Driving forces are those that

are trying to cause a change in a static condition. Restraining forces are those

that are trying to maintain the static condition; not at all unlike Newton’s First

Law. When attempting change or improvement, if the restraining and driving

forces can be understood, the process improvement team can look for ways to

enhance the driving forces and moderate or eliminate the restraining forces.

Force field analysis uses a graphical technique to map the forces that are

affecting the situation. All driving forces are shown on one side of the issue, and

all restraining forces are shown on the other side, as in Figure 8-3.

An interesting, and frequently useful, modification to the basic approach

assigns a number (value) to each of the forces, both positive and negative, affecting

the issue. The value of the numbering system must be the same on both

sides. By assigning values, one can add the total values and make an initial

determination of the difficulty of changing the issue as well as the value of each

force. This gives the project manager an idea of the magnitude of the problem

and the power of the tool being used as well as the easiest and most difficult

restraining forces with which to deal.

From a practical standpoint, Force Field Diagrams are generally constructed

with two columns of data for each effect. The driving forces are listed in the

F i g u r e 8 - 3 — F o r c e F i e l d S c h e m a t i c







first column and the restraining forces are listed in the second column. The

same technique can obviously be used to list strengths and weaknesses, pros

and cons, and any other positive and negative influence that acts upon an effect.

You can map these forces in a number of ways. The easiest way is to use a

spreadsheet to list the forces.

Once all of the forces are mapped, it becomes possible to see how opposing

forces line up and then look for ways to counter the forces against each other

so that the current situation moves in the direction of the desired improvement.

Additional columns can be added to the left and right of the two central columns

to list factors that can emphasize (driving force) or neutralize (restraining

force) the data in the center two columns. You can add columns outside the

opposing forces to give each a Force Value. This will give you an idea of ‘‘How

much of A’’ or ‘‘How much of B’’ you need to apply to counter its opposing

force. You can use the sum function to balance or eliminate the forces.

Once the causes are known, cause and effect analysis can again be used to

determine exactly what kind of incentive package (driving force) it would take

to overcome this restraining force. There could be situations where you do not

want to maintain the status quo or stop some activity. In those cases, simply

reverse all the activities above. In other words, you want the restraining forces

rather than the driving forces to ‘‘win.’’

Software used to support Force Field Analysis is called ‘‘PathMaker’’ from:


7300 Penn Avenue,

Pittsburgh, PA 15208

Phone: 800-826-7284 or


Fax: 412-371-0681

Web site: www.skymark.com

E-mail: info@skymark.com