In change projects there are a million tools that you can use and everybody tells you change needs to happen, but no one shows you how. One tool that you can use to identify change forces and change barriers is the Force Field Diagram. The Force Field diagram is credited to Kurt Lewin, who was one of the first people to study group dynamics and organizational development.
The Force Field Diagram illustrates some very practical areas of change management that are often overlooked in many change and operational strategies, so when you use it try to answer these questions:
What are you trying to change?
This question is important because it forces your staff to think practically about what they want the change effort to accomplish and what approach they want to use. This question creates a goal for your change project and creates the foundation for a change management project. Once the goal is recognized, planning the effort is much easier for all involved.
Can you identify the barriers to change?
This simple step is often overlooked, because everything can be improved to some degree. Many change projects operate on the perception that any change is good change and that gets them in trouble. The key to creating a sustainable change project is to decide that there is a realistic need for change. To do that, your organization needs to identify the barriers. Identifying the barriers to change effort creates a visual illustration that allows the stakeholders to ‘see the big picture’. The barriers show management if there is a business case for change and show the change agents if the requested change is realistic.
The Force Field Diagram gives organizations specific actions to increase driving change and some of the benefits from using the Force Field Diagram are:
- A significant decrease in change barriers.
- An increase in forces that drive change.
- Actionable solutions and solution frameworks.
- Root cause identification.
While Force Field is not a flawless method or all encompassing method, it does provide a good starting point to critically analyze your change project and what you hope to accomplish.