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A Simple Tool to Help You Achieve a Change Success Rate Greater than 30%

It’s commonly understood that 70% of all change initiatives fail or fall short. That’s pretty wasteful on a number of fronts!

If you've gone through the agonising experience of implementing change in your organisation here is a tool that can help make that process simpler, easier and hopefully less painful.

The Force Field tool is a great way to work out "HOW" to get from where you are "NOW" to "WHERE" you want to be.

It is also a useful tool for planning for change. Developed by psychologist Kurt Lewin in the 1950’s, it was originally intended for social situations, but has also been successfully applied to small and large projects, organisational transformation and process management. The concept involves pitting opposing forces of change against each other.

How Force Field Analysis Works

A proposed change is written in the centre of a table with driving forces (positive +) laid out on the left side while restraining forces (negative -) are on the right. All forces are then evaluated according to priority, and then action steps are proposed to double the impact of positive forces and halve the effect of negative ones.

Generally, you need to look at the following capabilities for change to be successful, so think through these sorts of issues when determining driving and restraining forces:

Do you have the structure to support the implementation of the change?

Do you have the systems to support and monitor your proposed projects? How much do you need to invest?

What is the current attitude of management and staff towards the status quo compared to the proposed change initiative?

Are your business processes ready to handle new influx ways of doing things?

Are people willing to undergo training or will the proposed change need a slower pace of implementation to help people integrate into how they work?

Here’s a worked example Force Field with instructions:

Proposed Change: “How to Increase Happiness”

Think of all the forces that can drive your happiness in a positive direction. Your list may include forces like, more money or better relationships. We have shown you five positive forces in the example but these are just examples and you should list as many things as you can think of.

Now, think of all the forces that are stopping you from increasing your happiness. Don’t repeat any of the positive forces by putting down the exact opposite to the positive statement, we need new ones. Your list may include forces like, procrastination or self-doubt.

The next step is to develop actions to double the impact of each of the positive forces. For example, if more money was one of your forces, the actions might be; develop a savings plan or improve job performance. The actions that double each of our positive forces are recorded below each issue as shown in the example.

Complete each of the positive forces and then move to the negative forces. Of course we don’t want to double the impact here; we want to halve or remove the impact completely. If one of your negative forces was procrastination the actions might be; do three key things or develop a reward system.

We now have many actions. If you could do each, your plan to be happy would be accomplished, however, we find people normally only do a maximum of three. Using the Pareto Analysis tool, select the top 20% or top 3 issues and develop action plans for them.

What will you do if after implementing the top 20% of your actions, your happiness does not improve? You select another top 20% of your strategies and apply them.

Have a go at using this tool next time you are faced with a change initiative.

Download a free workbook here to help you complete a force field analysis for yourself.

Feel free to contact us to discuss any barriers you may face and how best to implement change in your organisation.

by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing

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