Force Field Analysis is a decision making technique used and developed by Kurt Lewin during his work as a social psychologist. It provides a framework that helps identify the factors that influence a situation, originally applied to social situations. His theory was then broadened by John R. P. French, a Professor Emeritus in Psychology, who related it to the workplace.
How does it work?
The technique is used to gain an overview for a potential organisational change, and the reasons for/against it, to aid the decision making process.
First of all, any factors of the decision that might affect the business must be identified, whether they are for it or against it. Then, each factor will be assessed and scored based on its impact on all aspects of the business.
The purpose of the technique is not only to decide whether or not to go ahead with the decision, but also to increase its chances of success by strengthening the factors supporting it and weakening those against it.
Why Mind Mapping?
Using Mind Mapping software, such as iMindMap, provides you with the perfect thinking space for laying out, and experimenting with the elements of a potential change in your business. The infinite canvas combined with the concise nature of a Mind Map makes it possible to condense large quantities of information onto one page – perfect for looking at the details.
Weighing up the effects of the decision is an important part of the process, so this needs to be done right. iMindMap will allow you to easily add and adapt ideas, throughout the whole process, without losing a coherent structure. The relevant information will be brought into clear focus, that will help you to come to an effective conclusion.
In addition, the radiating branches of a Mind Map help your brain to make associations between ideas, which encourages you to generate more of them. This will help you to cover all angles, which is essential when deciding whether or not to implement a significant shift in an organisation.
So let’s begin…
1) Describe your plan
As always with Mind Mapping, start with your central idea. It should represent your Mind Map’s topic, so in this case, make it your plan for change – in this example, changing the name of a product.
2) Add the factors for and against
Create two main branches; one leading to the factors for the decision radiating from the left-hand side of the central idea, and one leading to the factors against the decision radiating from the right. Your child branches will display the factors themselves.
After adding your own ideas, ask your team to get involved. Mind Mapping will allow you to combine everyone’s ideas, without losing sight of your own. As you and your colleagues are brainstorming the factors, think about the following;
- What benefits will the change bring?
- What are the risks?
- What other processes within the organisation will be affected?
- Who supports the decision? Who is against it? Why?
- What are the costs?
- Do you have enough time and resources to make it work?
- Will it be easy to implement the change?
Hint: When naming your branches, stick to one keyword per branch as it triggers your mind into making a greater number of associations compared to using multiple words.
3) Score each factor
On a scale of 1-5, 1 being the weakest and 5 being the strongest, assign a score to each factor. Use the number icons in the properties panel in iMindMap to label your branches. Then, add up the scores for both sets of factors. It’s good news if the factors for the decision have a considerably higher score than those against it!
However, if you find that both scores are fairly even, like the example above, the aim is to weaken the forces against the decision, in order to strengthen the ones for it. This will make the change more successful.
To weaken the forces against the decision, think about what you can alter to open up new opportunities and increase the chances of success. Add these ideas to your Mind Map. Let’s take a look at a few of the factors against from the example above…
One factor that goes against the decision to change your product’s name is the attachment the existing customers may feel towards the old name of the product. People feel comfortable with the familiar, so what if they have a negative reaction to your new name? What if this results in a dip in the amount of customers and in turn a loss of revenue?
Now think about how you can overcome this issue. For instance, you could reassure your customers that the change will not affect the product and explain your reasons behind it and why it’s for the best. In addition to this, you could provide your customers with discounts or offers, to ease the situation.
Customer and employee confusion
Another factor that goes against the decision, is the confusion the change could cause for not just your customers, but also your employees.
Your customers will have to get used to the product being referred to as a new name, that’s unrecognisable to them. Combat this by gradually easing your customers into the adjustment by consistently mentioning it throughout your marketing channels, i.e. your company newsletter or social media. They shouldn’t feel as confused if you have warned them in advance.
Your employees will need time to adjust to the new name change, remembering to call it by its new name when taking a sales call for example. Tackle this by providing your employees with the appropriate phone training, mention it consistently in your meetings, and put up reminder signs around the office.
The score assigned to these factors can now be lowered, as they have less impact because you have tackled the issue. Now the score for the factors for the decision are higher, thus swinging the balance in favour of the change.
Mind Maps are the ultimate tool to accompany a decision making technique such as Force Field Analysis. They highlight the key facts, enabling you to focus on the relevant information. This allows you to assess the situation and predict possible outcomes, helping you to reach an informed decision.
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