A Change Management Tool that Works

Change Management Made Easier: The Force Field Map

What do I mean by a Force Field Map?

A Force Field Map is a visual “map” of the forces driving and resisting change. 

Discussion

If you are suffering like Sisyphus trying to drive Change Management, you need this tool: The Force Field Map.

  • First you list the forces,
  • then prioritize those forces in order of strongest to weakest
  • and most influential to least, 

So you can clearly see the best point of attack for effecting change. The Force Field Map is used to help bridge the gap between where things are, and where you want them to be, with less effort. The theory is the balance of supporting and resisting forces is what keeps things the way they are, especially in social organizations. Weaken resistance enough, or strengthen the forces for change and you can tip the balance.

  • Map the forces,
  • focus on the most important but easiest to influence,
  • and tip the balance with the least amount of effort.

Force field analysis was developed by Kurt Lewin, a social psychologist who created and the Research Center for Group Dynamics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1940’s. It takes about an hour for one person to complete a “map,” or about half a day for a team of people. The time invested can save hours of frustration and confusion.

Steps...

  • On the worksheet, define present condition and desired future condition
  • Then, list the forces supporting change and those resisting it on PostIt® notes, one note per. They can be tangible, like “not having money,” or messy like “morale.”
  • If supporting, draw an arrow facing up on the Post-it®; If resisting, an arrow down.
  • Put the notes in the right location on the “Map,” or matrix below
  • Prioritize by the relative importance, and the energy needed to change. The more important and easier should be given highest priority. Rearrange in order of priority.
  • Create an action plan to tip the balance.

NOTE: In more complex situations, you may need to separate resisting forces into those that sustain the way things are, and those that constrain change; sustaining is something that is resisting to a lesser degree than things that really stand in the way, like physical laws, vested interests, not yet existing technology.

Forcefield Tool for Change Management

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About the Author

Dan Strongin works with medium to small companies, helping them master the art and science of managing.