Force Fields and Resistors

Most major change projects fail. About 70% of them in fact!

P1000017It is usually because there are conscious and unconscious ways in which a system will resist change. When there is change, people can feel a sense of loss. There is also no guarantee that change will affect things positively, and this risk can cause trepidation.

So in any system there will be some desire to change and some fear and resistance. These two positions work in opposition to each other, like forces, in order to try and keep things the same.

To make a change you have to really understand the drivers and resistors to change. A Force Field Analysis can help you understand these, and you can then take steps to make the drivers more powerful than the resistors.


Theory Video:

Case studies and insights from participants


One major barrier to system change is fear. Fear of change, doing something different, stepping outside of your comfort zone and rocking the boat are all scary prospects. Instead of railing against the resistance, understand it, talk about it, highlight differences, but do not ignore it. When faced with a barrier common reactions are to climb over it, go around it, underneath it – essentially ignore it. However if we do this we stop listening to the very people who make the difference. Face the barrier and work with it” 


Looking back on the past six months the main barrier has been fear; my fear as a frontline worker that it is not my place to suggest change, the fear of other organisations who are not seeing the system from my viewpoint and the fears of some other professionals who have become very defensive. I have countered my fear by discussing my observations with others, including those in other agencies. I have taken advantage of crisis situations to ask questions about the system and why/where it all went wrong and then I have, with a little help, set up a once a month meeting to discuss joined up problem solving. I have come to realise that changing any system may not happen quickly, I have learned patience as a result”

Finding the Flex learning module

Other themed sessions in this learning module