Wondering how to get your team out of a stuck pattern or how to boost collaboration and move everyone forward towards a goal? Try using Forcefield Analysis, a framework for looking at the factors that are driving or hindering you. We use it in the woods with our clients. It'll help you make faster progress.
The other day we were working with a research group from a London university. The leader was frustrated that the same small core bunch of people came to meetings and away days, while the rest of the research group - about 25 people - didn’t show up or engage in any activities.
She came to us to try something different, to catalyse a more connected and engaged group. She wanted people to see the group as a real resource. And she didn’t want to be the only person driving things.
We decided to experiment with a new (to us) development tool in the outdoor team day we ran for them. Forcefield Analysis was created by psychologist Kurt Lewin in the 1940s, it is a process for working out what’s driving your team and what’s holding you all back - whether on reaching a goal, or working together better.
The theory is that you make faster progress by weakening and removing the restraining forces than by trying to do more driving things (especially when everyone is already overloaded.)
An example of how it can work
As an example of this kind of thinking, I was on a call the other day where an ex-civil servant explained what his government department did when they had been unable to reach their diversity target. It was only when the department dropped a norm that their interviewers had to be at least two grades above the posts they were hiring for, that things changed and they reached their target.
The reason? The restraining force was the lack of diversity in senior people, the ones who were running the interviews - and that was causing the problem. When they found a way to get round that, they met the diversity target.
Two case studies with clients
We’ve used Forcefield Analysis with several clients now with some great outcomes. Here's a couple of case studies:
1. Increasing engagement in a team
For the university research group above, one of the insights that emerged from using the Force Field with us was that what people actually wanted was social gatherings to get to know each other better, rather than having more academic presentations. Even though the leader thought research-related sessions was the right thing to do, people already felt overwhelmed by too many presentations in their week. The group realised that just meeting to share food and getting to know each other better would actually lead to more engagement.
I spoke to the leader a week after their day in the woods, she said people were so motivated that several people had stepped up and they had already implemented everything they had come up with and agreed on the day.
What's even more impressive is after the day with us their employee net promoter score (eNPS) jumped from 30 to 85!
2. Helping a management team work together
We also ran a Forcefield Analysis with a management team from a south-east-based charity where everyone was feeling really frazzled, leading to people retreating into silos and worsening communication.
This team wanted to reflect on how to work together better.
Looking at the driving and restraining forces yielded rich conversations and quick wins. Their solutions included restructuring meetings to make them more focussed, and they found a way to overcome team members feeling excluded from decisions by sharing strategy decisions in existing internal updates. These all felt implementable.
Their eNPS also jumped afterwards - from 10 to 43!
How to use Force Field Analysis with your team (with a free template)
To try this out with your team and see how it leads to better collaboration, communication and faster progress, there are 6 steps:
Warning: what could go wrong if you do this yourself
As a leader or manager of a team you may decide to run a Force field analysis yourself, however the traps to be aware of are:
If you get this right, Forcefield analysis is a powerful tool to help you progress.
So get in touch if you’d like some help exploring this with your team - our facilitated sessions for teams are productive and fun, and use tools like Force Field Analysis to help your team work together better. Worried it'll be too cold outdoors? This winter we’re looking at some new indoor barn spaces, with Nature we can dip into on the doorstep.
Our mission at School of the Wild is to help businesses and organisations transform their teams and learn to work together better, by inspiring a positive and regenerative workplace culture. We believe that Nature brings out the best in people so we bring leaders and teams outside to help you reconnect and think differently.
Have a look at our outdoor team building away days, company offsites, and leadership development programme or get in touch for more information.
Author & Curator
Nigel Berman is the founder of School of the Wild.