Force Field Analysis

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If you have a specific topic you wish to address this is a good technique. Also good for whole department/company retrospectives

Length of time:

Approximately 60 minutes but variable

Short Description:

A plan designed around the force field analysis technique


Whiteboard, pens, flip chart... the usual


Step 1: Pick a topic (in our case an xp/agile practice).

Step 2: Break the team into groups of around three. For us it usually works out to three groups of three and one group of four.

Step 3: Set the timer and give the groups five minutes to list all the supporting/driving factors for the topic. This would be all the things that make it easy to engage in the topic or reasons why it’s important to do the topic.

Step 4: Go around room to each group. Have them give one thing from their list and write it on the board under the driving column. Repeat this until every group has exhausted all of their items.

Step 5: Repeat steps 4 and 5 for inhibiting/restraining factors for the topic. This would be all the things that make it hard to engage in the topic or make the topic difficult to support.

Step 6: Review items on both lists and clarify. Make sure that the collective doesn’t have any additional items to add.

Step 7: Let each person know they have two votes. Read off each item in the driving column and ask for a vote if they think its “strongest” factor for that column. Tally the vote next to the factor. Repeat this for each item.

Step 8: Pick the top two or three items and draw large arrows towards the opposite column. This highlights that this is a quick win to combat the opposite side so increasing/decreasing this factor has the largest win in making the topic successful.

Step 9: Repeat for the Restraining column.

Step 10: Now that you know what is conspiring against you and what is cheering you on in being successful in the topic have a quick brainstorming session (15 minutes or so) on action items you can do to INCREASE the driving factors and DECREASE the restraining factors.


Derek Neighbors