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Try this proven strategy for overcoming resistance to organizational change

Posted by Neha De

September 2, 2021    |     2-minute read (572 words)

In 1951, social scientist Kurt Lewin introduced the concept of “force field analysis” to the world in his book titled “Field Theory in Social Science.” Fast forward to today, business leaders and managers continue to use this tool to minimize resistance and improve organizational performance.

Force field analysis calls for maintaining an equilibrium between forces that drive change and those that resist it. And for change to take place, either the driving forces need to be strengthened or the resisting forces weakened.

Force field analysis can help business leaders by:

  • Reducing the barriers to change. Understanding the forces that are propelling toward or preventing one from achieving one’s goals can help identify what forces are preventing them from moving forward and what should be done to overcome those barriers.
  • Reducing resistance to change. Resistance from staff members is a regular hindrance to change, and often, appears as one of the top obstructive forces in a force field analysis. Exploring the reasons behind this resistance can help business managers develop strategies for reducing it.
  • Making informed decisions. The force field analysis tool proposes insights that can help leaders and other stakeholders make informed decisions.
  • Solving problems. By analysing the helping as well as hindering forces, decision makers can understand a business problem better and, in turn, offer more effective solutions.
  • Developing an effective communication plan. In a business setting, mindsets and attitudes are often considered common impediments. By grasping the nature of those emotions, leaders and managers can generate more efficient change management communication plans.
  • Assessing costs. A force field analysis can help leaders with budgeting. It helps them understand what kind of resources are required to curtail hindering forces and facilitate helping forces. 
How to use the force field analysis tool to drive change

The force field analysis technique can be broken down into three simple steps, namely, unfreeze, change, refreeze. These steps can help business leaders and managers leading people through change as well as efficient decision-making.

Step 1: Unfreeze: To begin with, a company should unfreeze its existing procedures and perceptions when preparing for forthcoming changes, as this will help them approach the challenge or task with a clean slate without bias. Past processes, behaviors, people, ways of thinking as well as organizational structures need to be thoroughly examined in order to illustrate the necessity for change to uphold or initiate a competitive edge in an advancing world.

Step 2: Change: Now is the time to implement change since the team is no longer frozen. According to Lewin, this is the most challenging step to complete as it is full of uncertainty and fear. In this step, staff members start to learn new processes, behavior and ways of thinking. Therefore, clear and constant communication across the organization is crucial for employees as they get used to the change both during and after implementation.

Step 3: Refreeze: Once all changes made to processes, behaviors and ways of thinking have been accepted, this step locks the new status quo or the new normal into place. Refreezing ensures that companies do not revert back to their old ways before the change was deployed.

Takeaway

A simple, easy-to-use tool, the force field analysis can help business leaders to quickly assess a proposed change project. By understanding the forces that both aid and impede change, they can decide whether the change should be deployed and what steps should be taken in order to succeed.

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