Change Implementation Techniques for Creating a Sense of Urgency

Technique 2.42 Identifying Driving Forces

(Expanded Force Field Analysis)


. This technique helps people explore the causes rather than just the symptoms. It involves delving into the issues rather than scratching the surface, and is like asking a snorkeller to scuba dive, ie go from snorkelling near the surface to diving to great depth.

. Driving forces are those factors (external and internal) that have the most influence on organisational outcomes. So, for instance, an internal driving force maybe "staff satisfaction levels", which is a major determinant of efficiency, contribution of ideas and improvements and attendance at work. A driving force which is externally generated maybe "competitive pressure", which results from the presence and performance of competitors in your marketplace, and to which your organisation must respond.

. Force Field Analysis involves consideration of 2 types of driving forces:

- enhancing/successful (positive), ie elements which help improve performance

- restraining/unsuccessful (negative), ie obstacles to improving performance

Some questions that will help bring into focus and/or provide insights into the organisational driving forces and their importance are

- What drives demand/choice/staff/cost?

- What underpins the sustainable competitive advantage?

- What are the current and potential risks?

An example:

Enhancing Forces

Restraining Forces

. changing markets

. fear of loss of control

. new technologies

. rigid policies & regulations

. changing workforce attributes & attitudes

. existing organisational norms & practices

. customers' needs

. lack of resources

. etc

. awards & industrial agreements


. systems


. etc


. List both the enhancing (+) and restraining (-) forces in your organisation and assign an impact/strength of the forces of Low (L), Medium (M) and High (H). Furthermore, the impact could be sub-divided into Short (S), ie 1 to 6 months; Medium (N), ie 12 to 18 months; Long-Term (L), ie 2 to 5 years

. Key driving forces can be classified into 3 types:

i) Controllable (C)

ii) Some influence (S)

iii) Uncontrollable (U)

For some influence and uncontrollable driving forces, there is a need to develop risk management strategies to handle them.

. Once all the forces are identified, then classified (enhancing or restraining), and their impact (high, medium and low) and controllability (controllable, some influence and uncontrollable) determined, then strategies to handle the forces can be identified. For example, if your business involves exporting or importing foreign exchange risk is a force that can be both enhancing and restraining on performance: its impact can be high on profitability but it is uncontrollable. Thus, a strategy needs to be developed to handle this factor. One possible strategy is to have forward foreign exchange coverage to reduce the risk of the adverse impact of exchange rate fluctuations.

Another example is car parks. When staff operating city car parks were asked to identify the driving forces in their car parks, the staff thought that this was a stupid question.
They stated the obvious - cars were the driving force!

Then they were asked to consider why cars come into the city, and the staff concluded that the drivers and passengers worked in the city and/or were seeking entertainment, such as attending movies, restaurants, theatre, or were going shopping.

The next question was - "what is going to influence people to drive into the city?

Some influences are the

- effectiveness of public transport

- the cost of fuel

- cost of car parking

- improved office technology allows more people to work in the suburbs or at home (creating fewer reasons to travel into the city)

- suitable entertainment/shopping facilities, such as cinemas, theatres, restaurants and shopping centres are available in the suburbs, etc

Thus, there are fewer reasons to travel into the city.

These car park staff now have an understanding that the factors influencing cars coming into the city car parks are quite complex and don't just involve cars.

In a tabulated format it looks like this:

List of Forces

Enhancing/ Restraining (+ /-)*i


(L / M / H)*ii


(S / M / L)*iii


(C / S / U)*iv




i) + = positive; - = restraining. Sometimes the forces can be both positive and negative; to help in this situation you can write in capitals more the dominant one, eg H (+) h (-), or uses percentages, eg 70% (+) & 30% (-)

ii) L = low; M = medium; H = high

iii) S = short-term; M = medium-term; L = long-term

iv) C = full control; I = some influence; U = uncontrollable

This is like conducting a risk management analysis.

Furthermore, once the strategies are determined, they can be prioritised into an action plan.

An alternative to numerical ranking of elements is to draw a chart showing the driving forces (enhancing and restraining) for an organisation, ie

organisational development change management

. The relative impact/strength of each of the driving forces is shown by the length of the line. Once the driving forces, and their relative impact/strengths, have been identified, then ways to improve the current situation can be investigated. For the situation to improve, the following must happen:

- strengthen or add enhancing forces

- remove or reduce restraining forces

- change the direction of some of the forces

. Changing the direction of a restraining force into an enhancing force is one of the most efficient ways to obtain improvements. This is best done by testing assumptions underlying the driving force, clarifying outcomes, and recognising the resulting benefits.

. Sometimes merely adding or strengthening a driving force may result in increased tension. This tension can be minimised by removing or diminishing restraining (opposing) forces.

(sources: Lynn Fossum, 1989; Allied Technologies Limited, 2005; LTA, 2005; Xerox Business Centre, 2005; Golding, 2007)


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