Origin of Force Field Analysis

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Origin of Force Field Analysis
Sid Siegel
I seem to remember from my early days in OD that Lewin based his model on engineering principles of force analysis taught in Statics and Dynamics of Forces in Mechanical Design. For example, in designing a bridge and determining how to support it you would try to find the load on the bridge, ie forces opposing the structure remaining stable, and thus the supporting forces needed to resit or balance the structure and keep it from collapsing, thus maintaining an equilibrium situation. Lewin applied this concept which primarily dealt with physical forces to more emotional and organizational forces for his model.

Force Field Analysis History
Mick Walsh
I understand - and I may be wrong - that Lewin visited Japan in the post-WWII rebuilding period and was taken to either a judo or sumo exhibition. That was where he discovered that one could use opposing forces to one's own advantage. Myth? I don't know. I would be interested in other comments.

Force Field Analysis
Michael King
Lewin used FFA principles with Iowa (USA) housewives during World War 2 to reduce civilian consumption of rationed foods.(meats) He identified the gatekeepers as housewives then reduced the restraining forces by involving them in the planned changes. Interestingly Douglas McGregor author Human Side of Enterprise helped Levin in 1946 to launch the The Research Centre for Group Dynamics at MIT, an engineering school. He avoided mainstream psychology academia. It may well be that many people relate Levin's theories to that time but my understanding has always been FFA began as an offshoot from his Field Theory conceptualized by the formula B=F(p,e) B=behaviour p=people e=environment I know what Levin did but I can't attach the exact time frames.

Force Field Analysis
Tim Reeks
I came across this concept when studying with the Open University, and the diagram was presented with 'resistance' being represented by a down pointing arrow opposing the 'change' being represented by an upwards pointing arrow. I find it easier to think of it that way, plus the 'power' of the 'resistance' or 'change' can be indicated by the size of the arrow.

Origin of Force Field Analysis
Lewin developed this concept to help individuals understand what was holding them back from changing their situation. Organisation development specialists picked the idea up from group dynamics, which Lewin also pioneered, and applied it to organisations as a whole. It had nothing to do with accounting concepts but this highlights its utility value in that people from so many disciplines find it useful.


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