Force Field Analysis

Force Field Analysis
  • Also known as Positive Negative Forces Analysis.

    Variants include Decision Balance Sheet, Force Field Theory of Change and Conflict Analysis.

    Force Field Analysis is a basic decision-making technique that is used to analyze the forces behind any decision. Better decisions are normally made by weighing up the helping and hindering forces then deciding whether to go for or against the decision. Force field analysis is widely used in the fields of project management, process management, change management and organizational transformation, and in social and cultural sciences.

    Force field analysis can be used by change agents and leaders at any level to analyze the pros and cons of any organizational decision. It may be used when decision making is difficult or challenging, and you need a quick tool to make a go no-go decision. It allows to better understand the benefits, costs and risks related to the decision, making it useful to explain the reasons behind making this or that decision.

    An example in which this technique can be used is deciding whether to install a new machinery in a production line or not. Other examples may include deciding whether to employ an in-house team or use outsourced professionals, deciding whether to expand the business or keep it stable and profitable, and deciding whether to develop your own system inhouse or start using a commercial solution.

    Force Field Diagram

    Force field analysis is often represented in the form of a diagram to make the exercise more visually engaging. Each force or argument is normally represented by an arrow. You simply need to list all possible helping forces left to the line, list all possible hindering forces right to the line, assign scores according to the degree of influence each force has, then find out which side wins. Note that the length or thickness of each arrow indicates the weight of the force.

    The force field diagram can be represented in one of these two formats.
    A force field diagram can be represented in one of these two formats

    Constructing a Force Field Diagram

    1. Gather the team and involve experts where appropriate.
    2. Describe the decision that needs to be made.
    3. Write the decision in a box at the top middle of a flipchart paper or whiteboard.
    4. Draw a line from the box down the middle of the paper.
    5. List all possible helping forces left to the line, then list all possible hindering forces right to the line.
    6. Allocate a numerical score to each force indicating its significance (e.g., from 1 to 5).
    7. Add up the scores of both lists to find out which force wins.
    Force Field Analysis Diagram

    Many questions can be used to help identify the forces involved. Some of the questions might be:

    1. What are the benefits and costs?
    2. What is the best or worst thing that could happen?
    3. How easy or difficult will it be to implement?
    4. How long it will take?
    5. What would happen if the decision was not made?
    6. What must be done to make it work?


    The following is an example of a force field diagram that was created to decide whether to implement a content management system in a company or not.

    Force Field Analysis Example


    The following is an example of a force field analysis that was conducted to decide whether to employ an internal or an external consultant.

    Force Field Analysis Example

    There are many tools that can help you to analyze the pros and cons of any decision. The simplest way is to use this force field analysis template.


    By using the force field analysis technique to analyze both the helping and the hindering forces behind a decision, and by presenting the pros and cons in a way that is comparable, decision makers can make more intelligent business decisions in a team-oriented manner.

    Other Formats

    If you want to use the following three documents in your training courses, the PPTX versions are available to buy from our Shop page.

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