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9. Force Field Analysis




Description and Purpose:

Force field analysis is a management tool developed by social scientist Kurt Lewin for diagnosing situations. It is also an excellent tool to use in assessing the driving and restraining forces of an advocacy issue. This is necessary in order to target advocacy resources to best effect.


Describe the current situation (the issue you wish to change).

Describe the desired situation (the policy change you are seeking through your advocacy work).

List all major forces driving change

List all major forces restraining change

Discuss and interrogate all of the forces. Are they valid? What are the critical ones?

Assign a score to each force, from 1 (weak) to 5 (strong)

Draw a diagram showing the forces for and against change (see example below). Show the size of each force as a number next to it (1=weak up to 5=strong) - or indicate relative strengths using different size arrows.

Determine whether change is viable and likely to be sustainable

Discuss how change can be made (by strengthening driving forces and weakening restraining forces)

Given limited resources, which forces should be priority targets?

Bear in mind that as each force changes, it may trigger a reaction from other forces. In particular, fighting against restraining forces (instead of strengthening driving forces or weakening restraining forces) may promote counter-attack.

You need to consider how you will change the balance of forces for and against the campaign issue in order to overcome obstacles. By carrying out the analysis you can plan to strengthen the forces supporting a change, and reduce the impact of opposition to it.

Driving forces are those factors pushing the situation forward, whereas restraining forces are the factors that stop or hamper its progress. From this, you can map potential allies and opponents. Then, from that, you can work out who your target audience is for each step of the advocacy campaign.

See below for example:

Force Field Analysis

Existing situation = government inactive on animal welfare

Desired situation = government actively working on animal welfare, with law which is enforced

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