Tag Archives: organizational change

“Why is My Organization Not Winning, Displaying Confidence!?!” – Part 1: What is Confidence?

Author: Emad Elias, MBA, PMP

This post is a part of a 4-part series on confidence by Emad Elias.

To be sure, as leaders, every one of us has done analysis time and time again on why our teams are not performing as we would expect.  We have all used multiple techniques and tools to try and determine what patterns lead to success and which ones do not.  A Harvard Business Professor by the name of Rosabeth Moss Kanter (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosabeth_Moss_Kanter) has posited that winning teams all display the following three things: Initiative, Collaboration, and Accountability.

Using examples such as Target, IBM, Seagate, Gillette, Continental Airlines, BBC, Verizon and sports teams such as the Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots, the University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball team (70 game winning streak), the University of North Carolina’s women’s soccer team, and De La Salle’s high school football team that won every single game for twelve years, Kanter shows that failure AND success are not episodes, they are trajectories.  They are tendencies, directions, and pathways.

So what is Confidence then? It’s the bridge connecting expectations and performance, investment and results.  Why is to so important to performance? Because it has tremendous influence on willingness to invest. This means to commit time, resources, reputation, or energy to something.  This investment shapes the ability to perform. But if people who must invest their time into something they believe is or will fail, they will withhold effort and investment and that deepens a state of decline.

As a simple example of what investment looks like, in your face investment like how a building is designed or maintained can deliver immeasurable results to boost peoples’ expectations of themselves and each other. If a building is bright, clean, and colorful and makes people proud of their workplace, it can also make them take the initiative to do work about which they are proud.  Kanter, in her book, offers the example of the difference between Target Corporation headquarters and Kmart headquarters.

What does confidence look like then as it relates to process improvement?  Take the example of Continental Airlines offered by Kanter.  They went from being in a major losing streak from 1989 to 1994 to winning numerous awards for customer service and workplace excellence ten years later.  What did this look like as people did their work?  From a process improvement perspective, this manifested itself in a transition from ad hoc processes and a culture of blame and disrespect to an environment where employees were reporting to management what they had done rather than asking permission to do things.  They had been empowered through years of collaboration, communication and responsibility.  This resulted in more standard processes that had become institutionalized and “everyone just knew their job and went to work”.

According to Kanter, there are four hierarchical levels of confidence when a team wins:

1) Self Confidence: an emotional climate of high expectations

2) Confidence in one another: positive, supportive, team oriented behavior

3) Confidence in the system: organizational structures and routines reinforcing accountability, collaboration, and innovation

4) External confidence: a network to provide resources

To learn more on the next part of this topic read Part 2: What does losing look like?

Force Field Analysis: A key to driving organizational change

Author: Tip Fallon, Business Analyst

So how exactly do you implement a change in an organization?  The process is generally long and complex, but Kurt Lewin’s Force Field Analysis is a model that you can use in the planning stages to help you:

(1) identify the forces supporting and restraining your desired change,

(2) understand the balance between the forces (which will determine if your change will be effective), and

(3) identify the most effective place to direct your energy for the change to be successful.

Here is an overview of how to apply the Force Field Analysis to a change effort:
(Note: Practitioners will use this tool in different ways.  Feel free to tailor it in the way that best suits you and your team.)

Step 1: State the desired change in one sentence.

What change do you want to accomplish?









Step 2: Setup the Force Field Diagram.

Setup a sheet of paper (or white board) with the sentence form Step 1 describing the change written at the top.  Then draw a line down the middle of the paper dividing it in half.

On the left side, create a heading as “Driving forces” and on the right, a header as “Restraining forces.”


Step 3: List and rate all restraining and driving forces impacting the change.

Brainstorm all the driving and restraining forces for the change.  Write them in their respective sides of the paper with a number representing the strength of the force.

This is one of the most important steps in the process.  Consider the many types of forces driving or restraining the change (e.g., technology, leadership, organizational culture, processes, environment, historical experiences related to the change, reward systems, etc.).  Conceptually, if you can identify and mitigate every potential restraining force against your desired change, your change will be successful as there will be no forces to stop it.

Use a scale of 1-5 for the strength of each force:

1: Negligible impact on the change; Easy to eliminate

2: Some impact on the change; Can be overcome with moderate effort/resources

3: Considerable impact on the change; Requires an investment of planning and resources to eliminate

4: Significant impact on the change; Requires high effort/resources to minimize it but probably cannot be eliminated

5: Can make or break the change by itself; Nearly impossible to eliminate

Note: Feel free to adjust the scale’s parameters; the key is to use consistent criteria.

For each force, draw an arrow (scaled to the strength of the force if desired) towards the middle line.  This represents the force pushing “for” or “against” the change.

Step 4: Do a litmus test.

Add the total strength scores for the restraining and driving forces.  Are they way out of proportion?  If the restraining forces far outweigh the driving forces, this may not be a viable change effort. If they are close, or the driving forces are greater, you may have a viable change effort on your hands.

Step 5: Determine which restraining forces can be reduced.

The crux of this tool: In order for the change to succeed, the driving forces need to outweigh the restraining forces.  The way to accomplish that is not to simply increase the driving forces – that only makes the restraining forces push back harder.   The key is to reduce or eliminate the restraining forces.  That way there’s nothing standing in the way of the change and you need even less driving forces to succeed.

For each restraining force, identify how you can either (1) eliminate, (2) control, or (3) influence it.  You may find that you can at least influence every force. You probably also now have a list of what would have to happen (a to-do list) for this change to succeed.

Re-calculate the total strength score for restraining forces.  Does this change the balance of the driving forces to restraining forces?


Completing this process should provide a better idea of exactly what forces are driving and restraining the desired change.  This helps you determine if the change is even worthwhile.  Further, by analyzing the restraining forces and using methods such as group brainstorming, you may find that there are few forces that you cannot influence, control, or eliminate.

The fundamental principle here: The forces acting for change must be greater than those acting against it.  Next time there is an idea to create a change in your organization, consider using Kurt Lewin’s Force Field Analysis to identify the forces at play, and manage them to increase the probability of success of your change effort.