Video Transcript: Force Field Analysis

Bob Lloyd, PhD, Executive Director Performance Improvement, Institute for Healthcare Improvement

One of the essential team tools that is very helpful as you’re discussing options for improvement is something called Force Field Analysis. Now, it’s a very simple tool. Actually, it’s easier to show in a drawing than it is to explain in words. Basically, what you do is you draw a T on a flipchart page, or two flipchart pages stuck together, and on the one side, on the left side, you put the forces that are compelling you forward. The driving forces, right? And on the other side, you put the forces that are holding you back. So, these forces are things that are hindering you, they go by different names, but basically they are the things that are holding back progress on your project.

Things that are moving you forward, that is you could easily call these positive forces that are driving you forward, and these are the restraining forces that are hindering you or holding you back, so we’ll mark those with a little negative. What you do is you use tools, such as nominal group technique, or brainstorming, and you generate ideas, either on the fly with brainstorming or you use nominal group technique to allow people to write down ideas and then get them all out on the flipchart page. So everybody puts down the forces that they believe are compelling them to move forward, and then they list the forces that are holding them back. Now, this requires some facilitation, so that people are open and honest and engage in a dialogue about what these are.

Then what you do, at the bottom of this you have a little box, and this box is the place for which you look for ideas that mitigate the restraining forces. So, you take all of these and then you come up with strategies for how you’re going to deal with the restraining forces. These forces, over here, the positive, the driving forces, you want to maintain and hold those. But these, you want to be able to move from things that aren’t going well for you to get them to become driving forces that can assist you.

So the force field analysis is a simple little way to get people to think about the forces that are compelling us to move forward, things that are holding us back, and then come up with strategies to deal with and address these forces that are holding us back. The force field analysis is a primary tool for dealing with teams and the ability to move forward and not experience road blocks in their quality journey.