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Adapted from Lindsay
Kurt Lewin quot;An issue is held in
balance by the interaction of two
opposing sets of forces - those
seeking to promote change
and those attempting to maintain
the status quo (restraining
Lewin viewed organizations as
systems in which the present
situation was not a static pattern.
But a dynamic balance
(quot;equilibriumquot;) of forces working
in opposite directions.
Equilibrium is reached when the
sum of the driving forces equals
the sum of the restraining forces.
In order for any change to occur,
the driving forces must exceed
the restraining forces, thus
shifting the equilibrium.
The management team in a large
government department decided to
launch a quality and customer service
They were focusing on what they
needed to do to ensure that it was
received positively by all in the
In a one hour session, they developed
the following force field analysis.
Force Field Analysis of this
Customer Service initiative
Original Decision: Launch and
After Force Field Analysis: More
emphasis on middle management
training and resources.
- Example is taken from Lindsay
Step 1 - Agree and define the
current situation and the desired
Step 2 - Focus on the forces and
brainstorm to identify them.
Then try to assess their relative
strength, marking each out of ten.
Driving Forces - Forces that are
pushing in a particular direction;
they tend to initiate a change and
keep it going.
In terms of improving productivity
in a work group, pressure from a
supervisor, incentive earnings,
and competition may be
examples of driving forces.
Restraining Forces - Forces
acting to restrain or decrease the
Apathy, hostility, and poor
maintenance of equipment may
be examples of restraining forces
against increased production.
In most cases it is more effective
to focus on trying to reduce the
opposing forces rather than trying
to strengthen the supporting
forces sufficiently to overcome
the opposing ones.
If you do the latter, then the
opposing forces seem to
strengthen to match.
Focus on the things that you feel that
you can and should change and devise
a strategy and plan of action
training workshops, pressure, etc.) to
Keep in mind that increasing the
driving forces or decreasing the
restraining forces may increase or
decrease other forces or even create
Consider the dilemma of the new
manager who takes over a work group
in which productivity is high but whose
predecessor drained the human
The former manager had upset the
equilibrium by increasing the driving
forces (that is, being autocratic and
keeping continual pressure on
subordinates) and thus achieving
increases in output in the short run.
However, new restraining forces
developed, such as increased hostility
At the time of the former manager's
departure the restraining forces were
beginning to increase and the results
manifested themselves in turnover,
absenteeism, and other restraining
This lowered productivity shortly after
the new manager arrived.
Watch out !
Any action can have an. We should
equal and opposite always increase
reaction in a force field. driving forces
Restraining forces can
increase equally too!
Now a new equilibrium at a
significantly lower productivity is
faced by the new manager.
Now just assume that our new
manager decides not to increase the
driving forces but to reduce the
The manager may do this by taking
time away from the usual production
operation and engaging in problem
solving and training and development.
In the short run, output will tend to be
lowered still further.
However, if commitment to objectives
and technical know-how of the group
are increased, they may become new
driving forces in the long run.
And also eliminate hostility and apathy
that were restraining forces, thus
moving the balance to a higher level of
output. – Example from Accel-team
Kurt Lewin was an American
social psychologist and having
contributed to science group
dynamics and action research, he
is regarded one of the founders of
But Lewin is perhaps best-known
for developing Force Field
Analysis, using Force Field