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Force Field Analysis

Description

This video delves into Kurt Lewin’s Force Field Analysis, a pivotal tool in organizational development. Originating from Lewin’s work, the concept focuses on analyzing driving and restraining forces affecting change within an organization. The narrative emphasizes the significance of reducing restraining forces to facilitate successful change initiatives. Drawing on examples from a diverse range of organizational settings, the video highlights the dynamic interplay between these forces and stresses the importance of strategic approaches to minimize resistance. Exploring themes of communication, conflict, change, leadership, and teamwork, the video provides practical insights for navigating organizational transitions and fostering a culture conducive to development.

Video Transcript

Force field analysis. Boy, if there is another model or theory that’s more fundamental for facilitating change, I don’t know what it is. This is absolutely essential. It’s the brainchild of a man named Kurt Lewin, born in Poland, who emigrated to Germany. He began to teach at the University of Berlin. He was a social psychologist, one of the very first. And he decided, fortunately for everybody in the mid-1930s, to emigrate again to America because his daughter, they were Jewish, and his daughter was not allowed to go to university. And he said, “I will not live in a country where my children cannot go to school.” And this is his concept of how do you go into a situation where change is either happening or not happening? How can you figure out what are the forces at work in that situation? And what he came up with was this concept? He said, there are things are the way they are now, the as-is state. There’s some kind of a desired state in the future. And so what you want to do is you want to create a change, going from the way they are now to the way you would like them to be. And, well, why aren’t they there now? Because in every situation, he said, you have a lot of driving forces in the direction of the desired change.

You have managers and supervisors and people that want it to happen. You may have frontline employees that want it to happen. You may have incentive systems, reward programs, you have training, all these things that are in the direction of the desired change. Why isn’t it happening? And what Kurt Lewin hypothesized, which has been proven over and over again, is that an individual’s behavior is actually being affected by a field of forces. Think about magnetic fields. So here’s a human being in the middle of a whole bunch of magnets around them, and they’re being pulled and pushed by this field of forces. And so Lewin simplified it into two dimensions. He said, you have driving forces. And then the reason there’s no change happening is on the other side, you have these other forces of different lengths and sizes and power. And these he called restraining forces. These are forces in the system, in the situation that are, in a sense, working against the desired change. And as these forces ebb and flow, you have this, what he called a quasi-stationary equilibrium. It’s kind of in the same place. It’s stationary, but it’s not rigid. It sort of ebbs and flows. So Lewin said, whenever change occurs, it occurs because, for whatever reason, the restraining forces are reduced to the point where the driving forces that are already there can move the change in the desired direction.

So what happens is you have the driving forces that are already there. You don’t have to push on the driving forces. This is something that Lewin discovered that when you try to do more motivation, if you try to give them more of an incentive program, whatever the restraining forces in the situation will just push a little harder. Resistance gets a little greater. So what you have to do is the smartest thing to do is focus on reducing restraining forces. I remember sometimes people and their attitudes are some of the most powerful restraining forces. So if you can, if you can get a person who’s opposed to the change to change their mind and support it, especially someone who’s in a powerful position, you’ve done a lot. I remember this change process we were doing in an engineering company in Ohio. I still remember this man’s name. He was the union steward there. Very smart guy, older, middle-aged, experienced like crazy. His name was Frank Hissom. I still remember his name, God bless him. And I said to the CEO when we were forming the steering group to guide this process, I said, I want who’s the most resistant person around you? So Hissom, and I said, I want him on the team.

And the CEO said, no, you don’t. And I said, well, yes, I do. And why? Well, because you’re wait and see. Well, so we start this week-long training program, training the steering group to actually lead the change process, do the diagnosis and everything. And at the beginning, Hissom was like, you know, this is a bunch of garbage. I can’t believe we’re spending time on this. Well, by the second or third day, he was thinking, maybe, maybe, maybe this time they’re serious. Maybe this time it’ll work. So by the end of that week, he had come completely supportive of the process. And when the group put out an email to the rest of the organization, he signed his name bigger than everybody else. And when they saw that Hissom signed up for this, oh my gosh, the change happened really, really fast. So use this force field analysis. I’ve used it in situations with 100,000 people and a dental office with six or 8 or 10 people. I’ve used this over and over and over again. See if you don’t find it to be an extremely powerful tool to do with the people. Ask them to fill out the driving and restraining forces and see if it doesn’t help your change initiative.

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