Force field analysis is a management technique developed by Kurt Lewin, a pioneer in the field of social sciences, for diagnosing situations. It will be useful when looking at the variables involved in planning and implementing a change program and will undoubtedly be of use in team building projects,when attempting to overcome resistance to change. Lewin assumes that in any situation there are both driving and restraining forces that influence any change that may occur. Driving Forces
Driving forces are those forces affecting a situation that are pushing in a particular direction; they tend to initiate a change and keep it going. In terms of improving productivity in a work group, pressure from a supervisor, incentive earnings, and competition may be examples of driving forces. Restraining Forces
Restraining forces are forces acting to restrain or decrease the driving forces. Apathy, hostility, and poor maintenance of equipment may be examples of restraining forces against increased production. Equilibrium is reached when the sum of the driving forces equals the sum of the restraining forces. In our example, equilibrium represents the present level of productivity, as shown below.
This equilibrium, or present level of productivity, can be raised or lowered by changes in the relationship between the driving and the restraining forces. For illustration, consider the dilemma of the new manager who takes over a work group in which productivity is high but whose predecessor drained the human resources. The former manager had upset the equilibrium by increasing the driving forces (that is, being autocratic and keeping continual pressure on subordinates) and thus achieving increases in output in the short run. By doing this, however, new restraining forces developed, such as increased hostility and antagonism, and at the time of the former manager's departure the restraining forces were beginning to increase and the results...