A force field analysis can be an effective tool for assessing change readiness. In this post, we’ll look at a force field analysis example that focuses on digital adoption.
To start off, however, we’ll briefly explore what this tool is and how change managers use it.
What Is a Force Field Analysis?
The force field analysis is a technique used by change managers to determine if a proposed business project is viable.
This technique measures a proposed initiative by breaking it down into three parts:
- The proposed change. Managers first outline the proposal in enough detail to understand the impact on the business, the people, the technology, and so forth.
- The hindering forces. Hindering forces are those that oppose the change project.
- The helping forces. These are forces that support a change project and provide impetus to move it forward.
Once these forces are identified, those performing the assessment will typically follow up with steps that include:
- Assigning scores to each force. Every force will have its own weight – some will have a stronger impact on the change process than others, for instance. A numerical scale, such as 1 to 5, is often used when assigning scores.
- Solutions are proposed to influence those scores. Part of the purpose of this exercise is to identify strategies that can influence the outcomes of the change project. See below for examples of how this can be applied.
This model is straightforward, which makes it easy to use and apply.
Stakeholders and change advocates can quickly establish priorities for change management, improve decision-making, and develop more appropriate change management plans.
Let’s see exactly how this model can be applied by looking at an example.
A Force Field Analysis Example: Digital Change
Digital transformation drives so many organizational changes in today’s business world, so this scenario should be familiar to many professionals.
Here is what a force field analysis could look like when applied in the context of digital transformation:
The proposed change
Adopt a new CRM platform in order to improve sales team productivity, enhance the customer experience, and achieve better sales numbers.
The hindering forces
Implementing a new CRM platform, such as Salesforce, requires extra work from employees, which can result in employee resistance and, initially, productivity issues.
Also, the IT department will need to migrate existing customer data, integrate the Salesforce platform with the existing digital ecosystem, and so forth.
The helping forces
Executives are on board with this proposal, so they are willing to finance it and lead it forward.
Sales managers also support the measure, since they want to increase the performance of their teams.
Here is an example of how a brainstorming team might score the helping forces:
- Executive support: 3
- Support from sales managers: 2
And here is an example of how the hindering forces could be scored:
- Employee resistance: 3
- IT integration: 1
Finally, after subtracting the hindering forces from the helping forces, here is the result:
- Combined weight: +3
This example, of course, is just illustrative – each organization and, in fact, the team performing this exercise will likely weight each factor differently.
Regardless of the outcomes, this exercise can help teams identify solutions that can improve this score.
After deliberating, the team decides on a few solutions that they believe will positively influence the outcomes of the change process:
- A digital adoption platform (DAP) will reduce employee resistance and shorten time-to-productivity, reducing the “employee resistance” number to 1
- To further improve support from leadership, change advocates build a strong financial case for the adoption of Salesforce, increasing the executive support number to 4
- By making a case for how Salesforce can reduce stress and streamline workflows, change advocates expect support from sales managers to increase to 3
Again, it is important to reiterate that this model is a subjective thought experiment.
It is very useful for brainstorming, but to make the most of it, advocates for change should leverage other tools, such as those covered next.
Another Example of Change Models in Action
Continuing with the above example, let’s see how that might be further augmented with Lewin’s other popular change management tool, the Lewin 3-stage model of change.
This model, like the force field analysis model, is easy to understand.
It consists of three stages:
- Unfreeze. Employees let go of previous digital workflows, routines, habits, and behaviors.
- Change. During this stage, there is a distinct lack of structure as people move towards the “new normal.”
- Freeze. Finally, new habits and behaviors are made permanent.
Extending the example outlined above, the 3-stage change model would describe the actual process people go through when making the change.
- Unfreeze. Managers build awareness of the need for change, explain what is occurring, and how it is to occur. Salesforce and new operating procedures are introduced, without being implemented.
- Change. Managers take a phased approach to adoption, implementing Salesforce in small pilot groups. Gradually, the old CRM is replaced with Salesforce and employees are trained with the DAP.
- Freeze. The old system is phased out completely and managers reinforce change through incentives, rewards, and accountability systems.
Naturally, this is just one example of the countless ways in which change management models can be applied in business.