Resources - Quality Systems

Force Field Analysis

Description The force field analysis is a technique that counts both the number and magnitude of positive and negative forces that effect the results of a proposed solution or change in process. The analysis of these positive and negative forces generally occurs after performing a brainstorming session or a cause and effect diagramming session.

This technique categorizes the identified forces as either positive or negative, and assigns a value (weight) to each force. All positives and negatives are added and the more positive the total, the more likely the proposed solution is the correct one. The more negative the total, the more likely the proposed solution is not correct. A strategy is then developed to lessen the negative forces and enhance the positive forces.

Application This analysis is often applied in determining which proposed solution, among many, will meet the least resistance. The number of forces should not be too high (i.e., less than 20) or other more sophisticated approaches should be considered. Application of the force field analysis requires a proposed solution and inputs to the process. These inputs might come from using group consensus techniques like those discussed in earlier sections. Also, assigning the value (weight) to each force might also require group consensus techniques.

Procedures The force field analysis is performed in the following manner:

  1. Identify the proposed solution or change in process.
  2. Determine the forces, positive and negative, that might effect the implementation of this proposed solution.
  3. Separate the forces into positive and negative lists and assign a value (weight) to each force. Arriving at these values may be achieved by use of a group consensus technique like the Delphi technique.
  4. Establish a strategy to lessen the negative forces and enhance the positive forces.

Advantages The force field analysis is useful in determining which proposed solution, among many, will meet the least resistance.

Limitations This technique is time-consuming in arriving at a consensus on the values (weights) of the forces, and is highly subjective.

Source: System Engineering "Toolbox" for Design-Oriented Engineers, Sec 7. - NASA/RP-1358

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