Using Force Field Analysis to Assess Organizational Readiness

As a project manager or business analyst, you often find yourself acting as an agent of change for your organization.  This is inevitable since you are shepherding new solutions from their conception to their completion. The trick is making sure that folks are ready and willing to use the new solutions to get the job done. Your organization also needs to be willing to maintain and support this new way of doing business, whatever it might be.  Take a look at your organization’s change readiness as part of your project efforts.  This may generate new requirements or implementation needs for that project.

Assessing organizational readiness involves communicating the impacts that a new solution will have on the business. This allows everyone to be prepared for the upcoming changes versus being surprised by them. Many times on my projects I have discovered, to my dismay, that surprised end users are not always happy end users. Training is another aspect of organizational readiness – you may need to train your end users on how to use the new solution before it is operational. Of course, you always should try to use any existing organizational change management practices that are already in place as part of your project efforts.

Be sure to take a look at the enterprise architecture to find out the current state of your organization relative to the changes your project will be bringing onboard. I always try to look at and assess the organizational structure, its existing business processes, any existing systems and all of the old and new information relative to my project’s end result. Often I do this during requirements development so I have something to build on from the beginning of my project versus waiting too close to the end of things.

One technique I really like to use and strongly recommend is force field analysis. Force field analysis lets you evaluate the pros and cons of each significant change associated with your project and its desired outcome and take a good look at potential positive and negative impacts on the organization. Force field analysis graphically depicts the positive and negative forces that either support or oppose a particular change, such as the change your project is bringing into play. When using this technique, you are looking for ways to strengthen support, reduce opposition, and generate new forces that view the upcoming changes your project is bringing in a positive manner.

Here is a really simple example of using this technique when looking at a project to add iPad tablets to a more traditional PC desktop computing environment:

Force field analysis has three simple steps:

  1. Identify the forces that are for or against the change
  2. Depict those forces on each side of the line, and
  3. Estimate the strength of each force.

These individual estimates can then be summed up for each type of force to give you an idea of the magnitude of your support and opposition.  Applying force field analysis graphically can be even more helpful to you and your team. I have fund that the best way to look at your organization is from four points of view.  Be aware and assess the culture, operations, technology and the stakeholders your project and its outcome will be impacting and interfacing with as part of your organizational readiness assessment efforts.

Assessing organizational readiness for your project’s end result is something well worth the time to perform on your current or next project!

Susan Weese

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