FORCE FIELD ANALYSIS and EFFECTIVE IMPLEMENTATION MANAGEMENT
Implementation is the phase between a decision and its realization.
Implementation may be placed in a continuum in which interaction takes place between those who seek objective and those on whom action depends. The importance of implementation is undeniable because it is a struggle over the realization of ideas. Effective implementation overcomes the gaps between intention and promise, aspirations, achievement and performance, and prescription and reality. Implementation comprises the ability to achieve specified ends by chosen means.
The time factor is critical in the implementation phase of a project. Contingencies characterize implementation in several ways hence interactive and dynamic elements are vital to implementation management in order to forge links in the causal chain connecting actions to objectives with a view to minimizing the discrepancy between what actually occurs and what was envisaged.
Implementation is not self-executing. It is not a process that follows automatically once a program has been formulated. Implementation requires the presence of an action-forcing mechanism. Implementation is a control task; it needs to be dynamic, flexible and adaptable to changing situations.
Breakdowns of implementation represent fundamental failures to translate meaningful ideas into effective action. Despite taking initiatives and using rational methods, on many occasions implementation is swamped by constant pressures of unpredictable problems and crises.
It is important to distinguish between non-implementation and unsuccessful implementation. In the case of non-implementation, the program is not put into effect as intended. Unsuccessful implementation, on the other hand, occurs when a program is carried out, but fails to produce the desired results.
Implementation seems vulnerable to the domino effect in that when the initial phase is troubled the implementation failure tends to transmit itself to later phases.
Once implementation dynamics are set in motion, they become vulnerable to adverse or diversionary forces which pull them away from their original design. Hence, a cogent implementation schedule and specific techniques are necessary to move from the realm of intention to the ambit of reality.
Force Field Analysis, a technique developed by Lewin, is useful in designing and executing the implementation process. Force Field Analysis is a technique for systematically reviewing the elements working for and against a proposed course of action. It assumes that in any situation there are both driving forces and restraining forces that influence implementation.
Driving Forces are those forces that facilitate implementation. Restraining Forces impede the implementation process – they tend to restrain, dissipate, decrease or negate the Driving Forces.
For successful implementation it is essential to push on and overpower or immobilize the restraining forces, or try to transform the restraining forces into driving forces.
From the Human Resource (HR) perspective the Driving Forces include Participants [people who recognize their responsibility in the success of implementation], Movers [people who remove obstacles to implementation when they encounter them] and Shakers [people who recognize an opportunity and will make implementation happen] and the Restraining Forces may comprise Spectators [people not interested in implementation], Protectors [of Status Quo], Doubters [of the way the implementation is being done], Worriers [who are afraid of failure] and Switchers [people who abdicate and “delegate” their implementation responsibility].
Before embarking on implementation you must determine the driving forces and restraining forces and formulate a strategy to tackle them; if you rush into implementation without proper analysis, you may get frustrated and not know why.
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2008
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.