How to use Force Field Analysis,
with James Manktelow & Amy Carlson.
James Manktelow: Hello. I'm James Manktelow, CEO of MindTools.com, home to hundreds of free career-boosting tools and resources.
Amy Carlson: And I'm Amy Carlson from Mind Tools.
When we have a tough decision to make, many of us will make a list of the pros and cons of the decision.
Then, if we have more pros than cons, then surely we should just move forward with it?
JM: Well, not necessarily. If you've ever made one of these lists, then you already know the problem.
Most of the time, the pros and cons aren't equal in importance.
For instance, you might have just three cons on your list, but one of those might be really significant. More significant, even, than all of the pros you've listed.
So, it's hard to make a balanced decision with a simple list.
One way around this is to use Force Field Analysis. This technique helps you weight up the forces for and against change, and represents these in a visually clear way.
Once you've done this, you'll have a more accurate assessment of your decision.
AC: Conducting a Force Field Analysis is really easy.
Take out a piece of paper, and think about the decision you're stuck on.
On the left-hand side of the paper, list the forces for change. That is, the pros of the decision.
On the right-hand side, list the forces against change, or, the cons of the decision.
Next, go through and assign a score of between one and five for each of the pros and each of the cons. A score of one means that this element isn't very important. A five means it's really important.
When you score the pros and cons on the force field diagram, you can represent the importance of each force by the size of each arrow.
Once you've scored each element, go back and add each column up. You now know whether it's worth going ahead with the decision.
JM: Let's try an example so you can see what we're talking about.
Imagine that you're trying to decide whether or not your organization should sponsor an upcoming charity event in your community.
You make a list of all the pros and cons of the sponsorship.
On one side, you write that sponsoring the event would boost your organization's profile in the community. Another benefit is that some of your team members could volunteer at the event, and you would pay them normally for their time. Sponsoring the event would also improve your organization's reputation with local customers.
When you start brainstorming the cons, you realize that it's going to cost more than you first thought. You'll have to pay for a booth, and pay your employees for their time spent at the event. It'll also disrupt at least two days of your department's work, since several team members will be away. This will affect the delivery of a project for a key client.
AC: Once you've brainstormed all the pros and cons, you need to rate each of them.
For instance, you rate boosting your organization's profile with a four.
Rewarding your team with a paid day of volunteer work is rated a three, and enhancing your firm's reputation with local customers is a five.
On the other side, the cost is a pretty big factor, so you rate that as a four.
Paying staff is not as much really an issue given the scale of the benefits, so you rate that as a three.
And, the disruption is scored with a two, since you don't think it would cause too much of a problem.
When you add it all up, you have a score of 12 for sponsoring the event, and a score of nine for not sponsoring it.
Now, the decision is an easy one to make!
JM: We've used a very simple example here. But it demonstrates how effective Force Field Analysis can be when making a decision.
You can find out more about using Force Field Analysis in the article that accompanies this video.