Change management is a powerful tool. It helps companies achieve their business goals by making decisions, taking action, and setting the direction for future development. There are a wide variety of different tools companies can use to build a successful change management plan. In today’s blog, we explore the Kurt Lewin’s Force Field Analysis as one particularly powerful strategic tool to help companies understand what’s needed to achieve successful change in both corporate and personal environments.
Understanding the Force Field Analysis Theory
Kurt Lewin’s concept of force field analysis hinges on the exploration of the various forces acting on a business in a state of equilibrium. Such forces can include culture, workload, the talent pool, moral, social conflict, management perception, and so on. Kurt Lewin says that a culture is a living process, composed of countless social interactions. The balance of those forces is what maintains a certain cultural patter of people at a given time. In order to change that balance, you need to change a force.
Before change can occur, you need to understand the type and power of the different forces at play. Consider the positive forces for change. What is driving the strategy for a renewed and reinvigorated culture? Also consider the negative forces, and the obstacles to achieving your change-centric goals. In order to accomplish prolonged change, that equilibrium must be upset, either by adding conditions favoring the change or by reducing the resisting forces. In order to unfreeze the existing equilibrium and move toward the desired change, a company must strengthen the driving force for change and/or weaken the restraining force.
Three Stages of Change
Lewin outlines the process of effective change in three steps. First, called the Unfreezing Stage, companies must get to a point of understanding that change is necessary and urgent. It’s about preparation for change and motivation to take action. The second stage is the transition itself. Change is not an event, but rather a process. Once People are unfrozen, they are able to move towards a new way of being. This is often the hardest stage of the change management process, as people involved are learning about the changes and need time to understand and work within the new environment. Support is critical, and comes in the form of training, coaching, and room to make mistakes. Only then can the group move forward toward stage three, refreezing – when stability is reestablished once changes have been made.
Using Force Field Analysis
As part of your own change management program, you can implement a force field analysis process which will clearly outline the opposing forces driving and restraining your desired change outcome. An analysis is needed to distinguish which factors within a situation or organization drive a person or group towards or away from a desired state. To understand the forces involved, you need to understand the values and experiences of the person or group involved. This requires self-awareness and emotional intelligence to align behavior with goals and move forward together.
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