Use Force Field Analysis to Understand Nuances
A force field analysis is a tool in the quality toolbox. Its typical use case is to help a team analyze a change by understanding the forces involved. We can also use it to help us solve a problem.
We can use a force field analysis to understand nuances or to get a handle on a change that involves many different people or departments.
We envision a force field analysis as a football field during a game. Listen-in and then gather your team and try it out for your next change!
What’s today’s insight to action? If we’ve got a change, whether it’s to implement a solution or get rid of a problem, we can use a force field analysis to better understand the forces at play – both in offense and defense – of whatever change we want to make. It’s a simple team tool that can be used to develop action plans to make things happen.
We’re trying to implement a new solution or we’re trying to get rid of a problem. Both of these scenarios can be caused and prevented by different forces, which forces are a play and what can we do about it? We can get a handle on it using a quality tool force field analysis. Let’s talk more about this after the brief introduction.
Hello and welcome to Quality during Design, the place to use quality thinking to create products others love for less. My name is Dianna. I’m a senior level quality professional and engineer with over 20 years of experience in manufacturing and design. Listen in and then join the conversation at quality during design.com.
A force field analysis is a tool in the quality toolbox. It’s a list building and graphical tool in one it’s typical use case is to help a team analyze a change by understanding the forces involved. We can also use it to help us solve a problem. We can use it anytime we want to change something. It’s very helpful when we’re trying to understand tricky nuances or to get a handle on a change that involves many different people or departments, a better understanding of this helps the team to make decisions and move forward.
It’s nearly fall and American football is getting into swing. So let’s imagine a football game. The players are at the line of scrimmage offensive and defensive guards facing each other. The ball is snapped and the guards start pushing against each other in a force field analysis. The change is the line of scrimmage. The offensive guard is trying to drive forces to make things happen. The defensive guard is trying to restrain forces against making the change.
Unlike football, in a force field analysis we could have any number of guards. We may have guards that don’t have a challenger. Our guards are also different strengths. We represent that with either a number or an arrow, the higher the number or the longer the arrow, the stronger our guard. At the end of our team building exercise to create a force field analysis, we’ll have a list of driving forces, a list of restraining forces and an estimate of their strengths against (or for) our target: to make a change, implement a solution, or solve a problem.
It’s a simple diagram that promotes a lot of discussion. If we’re working on a change that involves many different departments or people, we might be surprised at what forces are in play to prevent our change from happening. That’s why we want to build a force field analysis with other people. Not just for their outside perspective, but their in-depth knowledge about the nuances of their area of expertise.
Now we can start talking about action so we can move our line. We want our line of scrimmage to move. We want our change to happen or our problem to go away. So we adjust our players or forces so we can move the line. When we want a change to happen, we’re on the team playing offense. We look to eliminate or make weaker the defensive restraining forces and build up the offensive driving forces. When we want to get rid of or solve a problem, we’re on the team that’s playing defense. We look to eliminate or make weaker the offensive driving forces and build up our defensive restraining forces.
Whichever way we want to move our line of scrimmage, we may want to weaken the opposing forces first, before we start adding strength to our other forces. When the desired force gets stronger, it may be the case that the opposing forces gets stronger, too. Then our line doesn’t move. When you build a force field analysis, you’ll probably see why this is the case for your particular scenario. For some practitioners, it’s their standard practice to address the opposing forces first, then build up the desired forces to push the line over to where we want it.
What’s today’s insight to action. If we’ve got to change, whether it’s to implement a solution or get rid of a problem, we can use a force field analysis to better understand the forces at play, both in offense and defense, for whatever change we want to make. It’s a simple team tool that can be used to develop action plans to make things happen.
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