How to Manage a Project

Getting Started

Additional Materials

Gaining Support

For many change projects, gaining support from others in the organisation is the key issue you have to tackle. For this, one often needs to shape the politics of the organisation. As Machiavelli wrote in the Prince:

"And it ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.

Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new" - from "The Prince" by Machiavelli (1469-1527).

The Force Field diagnosis shown below helps in formulating a strategy in such situations. 


Force Field Analysis

This is a tool to help a person or a team to assess the change dynamics of a situation and develop an action plan as to how they should introduce changes. It was developed by the psychologist Kurt Lewin and is often used in counselling situations.  The thinking is as follows:

In any situation that you wish to change, there are forces for and against the change:

Your success in introducing the change depends on that balance and how you manage it. In a Force Field Analysis you map those forces, assess the forces and the balance, and then devise actions to either reduce the opposing forces or to strengthen the supporting forces. In practice, the former is the most effective strategy.

Example

The management team of an executive agency in a large government department decided to launch a quality and customer service initiative. They were focussing on  what they needed to do to ensure that it was received positively by all in the organisation.

In a one hour session, they developed the following force field analysis. When they looked at it they amended their design for the launch and training to place much more emphasis on middle management training and resources. 

Force Field Analysis for Customer Service initiative

force field analysis for customer service intiative

The general procedure for doing a Force Field Analysis is:

Step 1 - Agree and define the current situation and the desired situation,

  • Then draw an empty force field diagram.

Step 2 - Focus on the supporting forces and brainstorm to identify them.

  • Usefully done with Post-its.
  • Write all the forces on the diagram and then try to assess their relative strength, marking each out of ten.
  • Draw the arrows with lengths relative to their strength or power in supporting the change.

Step 3 - Repeat this for the opposing forces.

Step 4 - Review the result and use it to  devise a plan of action.

  • Using the diagram to address the question "what does one do to change the balance to allow the project to move forward".

Experience shows that in most cases it is more effective to focus on trying to reduce the opposing forces rather than trying to strengthen the supporting forces sufficiently to overcome the opposing ones. If you do the latter, then the opposing forces seem to strengthen to match. (Issac Newton's Law of Action & Reaction).

Focus on the things that you feel that you can and should change and devise a strategy and plan of action (communications, involvement, training workshops, pressure, etc.) to achieve that.