Guide for Managing Change for Urban Managers and Trainers (HABITAT, 1991, 190 p.)
 Part I
 Action research and planning
 (introduction...) Building a problem-solving relationship Problem identification Analysing the problem Planning a course of action Experimentation and redesign, implementation, evaluation

### Analysing the problem

Figure

He was in logic a great critic
Profoundly skill’d in analytic
He could distinguish and divide
A hair ‘twixt south and south-west side.
On either which he would dispute,
Confute, change hands, and still confute

Samuel Butler

TRAINER’S NOTES

Topic: Analysing the Problem: Part 1

Time required: Approximately 3 - 4 hours

After the participants have identified and verified the problem sufficiently, it is time to: (1) translate the problem into an objective (the end result); and (2) analyse the forces working for and against the objective. This session is designed to accomplish these steps in the problem solving process.

1. Working with the total group, help them identify criteria for setting objectives. (These are listed in the written materials.) While participants will be able to identify most of the essential criteria for determining objectives, you may need to complete the list based upon your own experience and those criteria outlined in the training manual. (I find getting the participants to identify the points one would cover in a lecture more effective than providing it for them.)

2. Ask someone from the group to volunteer their problem statement. Still working in the plenary group, assist the participant to translate the problem statement into an objective statement. The other participants should be encouraged to join the discussion.

3. After the plenary discussion, ask the participants to reconvene in the small groups they have been working with and spend a few minutes (no more than 20) writing an objective statement that meets the criteria defined in the plenary session. If you have been following the routine of working shared performance deficiencies in small groups of participants, ask them to write the objective based upon the performance deficiency they have agreed to work on.

4. Reconvene the total group, have each small group report their statement of the objective to be achieved, critique the statement and move quickly to the next task. Problem analysis exercise sheet: Part I should be completed by each participant to help them reinforce the points to be learned about setting objectives.

5. Demonstrate the use of the force field analysis technique. This can be most effectively presented by taking one of the group’s stated objective and analysing it in a plenary session, soliciting ideas and comments from the participants. Follow up with questions for clarification about the process before moving to the next task.

6. Reconvene the small work groups to analyse the forces impacting upon the achievement of their stated objective. The workbook form, Problem Analysis: Part 2 (Exercise), is designed to help small groups and individuals work through this analytical process. Problem analysis can be a time consuming task, so plan accordingly. I hesitate to put specific time frames on each of these task since so many variables enter into the completion of training events. Just remember that time is a scarce commodity and the task ALWAYS expands to fill the time allotted!

OVERVIEW

STEP C: ANALYSING THE PROBLEM

As suggested in Step B, there is a tendency in the problem solving process to pursue symptoms (mini-problems masquerading as the real thing) or to jump to conclusions (solutions). In the first case, the symptom may be solved but the problem continues to exist. When the solutions are defined as problems, they immediately eliminate all other options for problem solving. More importantly, jumping to solutions may have you chasing after the wrong problem - or no problem at all.

Analysis is the bridge between Step B (identifying the problem/opportunity) and Step D (planning a course of action). Talking to your problem as suggested in Step B begins the analysis stage of problem solving.

Identifying the problem, in a precise way, is half the challenge of problem solving. No one understands the importance of this better than Japanese managers. They have a tendency to spend, at least in the minds of many Western managers, an inordinate amount of time on “problem finding.” This means, more often than not, getting agreement on what the questions are that need to be asked. Implementation, in Japanese organizations, results from consensus decisions that emanate from in-depth discussions and reflections on the issues involved, starting with the all important step of defining, as precisely as possible, the problem they are confronted with.

By contrast, many Western managers, particularly Americans, have the tendency to rush into situations - to solve the “problem.” The rush to solution often has the American manager spending valuable time in what might be called backward planning. Backward planning, more often than not, has the manager redefining the problem to fit the solution. It is not a recommended approach to problem solving.

ANALYSIS IS A TWO-STEP PROCESS

Problem analysis, as I have defined it, is a two-step process: (1) translating the problem into an objective; and (2) analysing the forces working for and against that objective.

· Setting Objectives

One can view a problem as two split halves with a gap in between, as shown below. One half is where we are now, the other, where we want to be. The problem is the discrepancy between the two.

Figure

Problem solving is the art of closing that discrepancy

Figure

Setting objectives may be the most difficult, certainly the dullest, part of the problem solving process. It requires a kind of discipline that some of the other steps do not. If you don’t know where you want to go, it is impossible to decide how you want to get there or whether you are there when you think you have arrived.

An objective is a statement of where you want to go or what you want to accomplish. It is specific about who will do what, with whom, when, and how we will know it has happened.

SOME CRITERIA FOR SETTING OBJECTIVES

For an objective to be well written (or stated) it should meet most or all of the following criteria:

(a) It is specific. It states what is to be accomplished in the shortest possible terms.

(b) It states an end result, not an activity.

(c) It must be something the individual, group, organization wants to do - otherwise it will have a tendency to slip away.

(d) It is measurable; we must be able to know when we reach it and be able to determine our progress toward it. Can we time it, count it, measure it, complete it?

(e) It has a target completion date. The absence of a date by which the objective is to be met is a license to ignore it.

(f) It is attainable within the time available.

(g) It is largely within our control. Without some control, it is difficult to assure that the objective will be accomplished. While it is recognized that many things about any objective may be outside of our control, it is important to minimize outside influence or interference.

The real problem in setting objectives is to state them in such a way that we will know whether or not we are moving toward them. Our tendency is too often to state objectives in a vague way, to make them “fuzzy.”

As you begin to write objectives, ask yourself are they:

· Measurable?
· Specific?
· Result oriented?
· Realistic and attainable?
· Time bounded?

· What do I want done?
· Who will do it?
· Who will it benefit?
· When will it happen?
· How will I know if I have been successful?
(What is the measure of success?)

When a man does not know what harbour he is making for, no wind is the right wind

Seneca

Once you have defined where you want to go (your objective), it is time to analyze the forces surrounding that objective and the changes you want to bring about

FORCE FIELD ANALYSIS

Force field analysis is a tool for assessing a potential change and the forces in the environment that influence that change. (It is important to remember that the solution to nearly every problem requires some change.)

Again, we owe a debt to Kurt Lewin, its creator. Lewin discovered that you could take any situation that a group would like to change and identify a field of forces - political, social, organizational - which keep the situation as it is. The forces are of two kinds: driving forces -those that push us towards our objectives, and restraining forces - those that stand as obstacles. In the diagram below, these forces are displayed with different length arrows which signify the relative strength of each force.

At the center of the field is the point of equilibrium (where we are now), which means the situation is held in tension by the opposing forces, but quite susceptible to shifts. An unbalancing of forces can cause the equilibrium to shift either in the direction of the objective or in the opposite direction, indicating slippage.

For example, if a local authority has as one of its objectives to allocate 500 low income housing plots per month in a housing project, instead of the present average of 300 plots, the force field would look as follows:

Figure

The driving forces are the things the local authority has working for it to meet its objective. The restraining forces are obstacles that stand in the way.

Problem solvers need to determine how to unbalance the forces and shift the equilibrium in the desired direction. Three processes are involved:

(a) Diagnosis: Identify all the forces, driving and restraining, that are helping to maintain the current level of activity.

(b) Unfreezing: Changing the different strengths of the individual forces, both pro and con.

(c) Redefining: Stabilizing the forces at a new, desired level.

Figure

Going back to the diagnosis, it is helpful to assess the relative strength of each force. One technique would be to give the driving and restraining forces each 100 points and then divide these 100 between the various forces on either side of the status quo.

Once their relative individual strengths have been assessed, there are three basic strategies for bringing about change.

(a) Add to the driving forces. This generally is less desirable since adding driving forces usually results in more opposing forces, which increases tension.

(b) Remove, or reduce restraining forces. This is usually more desirable and less obvious.

(c) Add driving forces and eliminate or reduce restraining forces. This is probably the most frequently used strategy.

SOME GUIDELINES FOR USING FORCE FIELD ANALYSIS

Not all forces are easy to influence or change. Some are so rigid that they are almost impossible to move. These factors need to be taken into account as you review:

(a) Which of the forces should you dismiss as being impossible to change?

(b) Which of the forces are most vulnerable to change? Which of those are also more important?

Once the forces have been identified as significant and vulnerable to change, consider which ones you want to attempt to change. In this process, it is helpful to ask the following kinds of questions.

(b) Which force, if we change it, will trigger other forces (for example, influencing a key leader may automatically influence his or her followers)?

(c) What are the resources we have available or can find to bring about the desired change?

(d) Where do we have the most leverage to influence the forces?

(e) What new resistances can be expected to develop as we begin to strengthen or diminish other forces? How can they be countered?

(f) Who needs to be involved or informed to either lessen the resistance to change or to provide support for the change?

The force field analysis prepares us to carry out our next step (Planning a Course of Action) because it begins to suggest various options - various ways to meet the objective.

EXERCISE

Topic: Analysing the problem: Part 1

Time required: 15 minutes

DEFINING OBJECTIVES:

1. The problem to be solved is:
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________

2. Given the problem, the objective is to:
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________

3. Is the above stated objective:

 (a) Specific yes__ no__ (b) Measurable yes__ no__ (c) Realistic (within our resources) yes__ no__ (d) Attainable (within our will) yes__ no__ (e) Results oriented yes__ no__ (f) Related to the organization’s overall mission yes__ no__ (g) Challenging enough to make it worthwhile yes__ no__ (h) Something you personally would like to be involved in yes__ no__

If the answer to any of these questions is no, you need to continue to work on your definition of the objective.

Remember, a concrete, measurable, result oriented objective is not necessarily realistic

Topic: Analysing the problem: Part 2

Time required: Approximately 1 hour

FORCE-HELD ANALYSIS

(a) State the current situation (where you are now) above Driving Forces on the following chart.

(b) State your objective (where you want to be at some future date) just above the Restraining Forces.

 Driving Forces Current situation Restraining Forces Objective -----------------® ¬------------------------ 1. 1. 2. 2. 3. 3. 4. 4. 5. 5. 6. 6. 7. 7. 8. 8. 9. 9. 10. 10. 11. 11.

(a) Identify the forces which will both help and hinder you in reaching your objective. Write them on the diagram above. Restraining forces block our progress; driving forces help us reach our goal.

(b) Identify the strength of each force by drawing arrows under each force. The length of the arrow should indicate the strength of the force.

(c) Identify the specific forces (restraining and driving) which you believe are most important. Once you have identified them, answer the following questions (criteria):

(i) Can you realistically change this force? (Influence)