How to Facilitate Building Force-Field Analysis


Purpose

This facilitative tool modifies and strengthens the comparative approach called “pros & cons.”  It helps groups prioritize and identify opportunities for improvement, especially with project teams.  Force-fields help groups organize their thinking and encourage thoughtful exploration.  Once the forces are identified, the group can analyze their impact, leading to ideas and actions that reinforce the positive and mitigate the negative forces.

Method

This exercise begins by identifying the objectives, or CTQs (Critical to Quality), or targets.  Next, for each objective or discrete variable (typically provided in a list, slide, or hand out), ask the following questions:

  • What is hindering us from reaching this target (negative)?
  • What is helping us move toward this target (positive)?

Given that you have created two new lists (ie, positive and negative forces), adapt the Peter Senge philosophy that it is easier to remove obstacles (the hindrances) than to push harder (supportive forces).  Focus discussion on what we can do different to overcome the hindrances or obstacles, but focus the discussion on one at a time. For each hindrance there should be more than one action that could be offered or considered.

Once the actions have been identified and agreed upon, it may be necessary to prioritize them.  If so, use the FAST technique’s PowerBall or Perceptual Mapping tool to accelerate consensual prioritization.

Notes

See how the first list of objectives generates two lists (ie, support and hindrances) that are then consolidated into one action list, as shown in the following diagram:

Become Part of the Solution, Improve Your Facilitation Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

Do not forget to order Change or Die if you working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and detailed tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

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Aspiring to Be Unconsciously Competent


The Four Stages of Consciousness and Competence

As we progress and increase our abilities, we may note an evolution of competency, illustrated in the chart above.  First, note that consciousness precedes competence.  We do not achieve a consistent level of success until we have developed consciousness about what is required.  Secondly, we discover that the amount of time between each of the stages decreases as we make progress.  Let’s look at each of the stages and the aphorisms offered up by John Maxwell that capture the sentiment of each stage.

Unconsciously Incompetent

Before we undertake a complex activity, we slumber through an area of unconscious incompetent.  We may linger in this stage for decades.  Look at the amount of time it takes to discover the difference between well-run and poorly run meetings.  In this stupor, you “do not know what you do not know.” You both lack knowledge and skills, and are unaware of your incapacity.

 Consciously Incompetent

Yet another stage remains before we become competent, and here we develop increased consciousness.  During this stage we also develop aspirations and hopes. We begin to envision ourselves as competent, and contributory.  You may also exist in this state for a long time, depending on your determination to learn and the real extent to which you accept your incompetence.  Most importantly, your consciousness enables you to observe and identify the characteristics of competency, typically in others as you begin to “know what you don’t know.”

Consciously Competent

Cast into the role of facilitator, we find ourselves slipping into and out of competency.  We can make our competency more steady-state by taking formal training, practicing, and participating with others who aspire to be better.  Developing competence will occur much faster than developing consciousness.  The practice and training help, but so does the increase in consciousness. We “grow and know and it starts to show.”

 Unconsciously Competent

With lots of practice and experience, you reach a point where you no longer have to think about what you are doing.  You become competent without the significant effort that characterizes the state of conscious competence.  In fact, we will drift in and out of unconscious competence, based on the skills we master quickly.  It takes little time to become unconsciously competent, only practice. Here we are called upon “because of what we know.”  Eventually we know that it feels right and we do it.

Howell (1982) originally describes the four stages:

“Unconscious incompetence – this is the stage where you are not even aware that you do not have a particular competence. Conscious incompetence – this is when you know that you want to learn how to do something but you are incompetent at doing it. Conscious competence – this is when you can achieve this particular task but you are very conscious about everything you do. Unconscious competence – this is when you finally master it and you do not even think about what you have such as when you have learned to ride a bike very successfully”
— (Howell, 1982, p.29-33)

Remember, consciousness precedes competence, and superb competence does not take much time, but it does take practice.  Hope you are getting your fair share of challenges, and don’t forget about our FAST and FAST+ Advanced classes for the opportunity for more practice and feedback.

See also:

Howell, W.S. (1982). The empathic communicator. University of Minnesota: Wadsworth Publishing Company

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.

Become Part of the Solution, Improve Your Facilitation Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

Do not forget to order Change or Die if you working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and detailed tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

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