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The analysis of these forces – both the (those resisting change) – helps to determine an appropriate plan of action.Lewin’s original model and its methodology can be seen here.
In response to an urgent request from the manager at Harwood Manufacturing Company in rural Virginia for help in raising production levels, John R. French (an external consultant from the University of Michigan and dyed-in-the-wool Lewianian) went to see what could be done.
Working with an internal personnel manager, Lester Coch, they designed and carried out what was probably the first ‘action research process.’ Harwood, a new pajama-making facility, was losing money rapidly, with very high turnover and absenteeism, in spite of higher wages and greater benefits than workers were making elsewhere.
First they interviewed the plant manager, then the other managers and supervisors, then, in a strange move, It is hard for us to understand how revolutionary this was in 1939! His conclusion: a simple process like decision-making, which takes only a few moments, is able to affect workers’ conduct for a long time. Lewin had observed that the output of a worker was ‘quasi-stationary’ and existed, not in a vacuum, but in a constantly-shifting ‘field of forces,’ some helping and some hindering the desired change.
One can imagine some managers and supervisors thinking, “Oh, great. The making of a decision seems to have a ‘freezing’ effect, Lewin hypothesized, which is partly due to the individual’s tendency to ‘stick to his decisions’ and partly due to their wanting to be a part of ‘the commitment of the group.’ The consultants then had the small group of involved workers plan their own hourly production rates by using ‘pacing cards.’ This group hit and maintained an amazing pace, going from 67 units prior to the experiment, to 82 and stabilizing there. Theoretically, changes in performance could be achieved by either a) strengthening a ‘driving’ force, or b) weakening a ‘restraining’ force.
Known today as ‘the grandfather of applied behavioral science,’ Lewin, a Polish-born, Berlin-educated Jew majoring in Social Psychology, left Nazi-dominated Germany for the USA in 1933, saying, ‘I will not teach in a country where my daughter cannot be a student.’ This practical way of thinking about real world situations led him to create his revolutionary conceptual models for human behavior.
Anyone who has ever heard or used words like ‘feedback’ or ‘action research’ or ‘group dynamics’ or ‘self-managed work teams’ or ‘force field,’ has been impacted by Kurt Lewin.
One of the key things to keep in mind when using force field analysis is that the analysis developed is entirely dependent upon the skill level and knowledge of the group working on the analysis.
In most cases, force field analysis is based on assumptions, not facts; even if the assumptions are based on accumulated data, the interpretation of the data shouldn't be construed as being objective within the overall process of evaluating the driving and restraining forces.
The Force Field Analysis model I use is a slight variation.
Re-arranging the columns allows a team to separate and articulate the .