We make decisions to fulfill our goals. Those goals can be immediate, short term or long term. Goals that affect us, our families, peers, society and the environment we live in.
Many of these decisions are fairly simple to make. But some, require a bit more deliberation, thought and rationality. I came across Force Feed Analysis some time back and have used this for thinking about my decisions.
Force feed analysis
was created by Kurt Lewis in the 1940’s for his work in social psychology. But is now used wildly, for making and communicating decisions in the business world. The model can very well be used in the school environment and also for individual decision making. For example, students can use this model when they are deliberating about subject choices or when deciding between colleges.
An example of how this works is
imagine a car moving on the road. The wheels of the car spin backwards, pushing the road back. An opposite force is exerted by the road that pushes the wheels forward according to the third law of motion. This action and reaction force makes the car to move forward.
Similarly, for any decision that one needs to take will have forces in favor and forces against it. It is the recognition of these forces and evaluation of them, that allows us to make a decision.
How does this work?
- In the center of a page write the change you want to bring about, or the decision that you want to take. For example, students can use this to evaluate and zero in on the college that they wish to attend.
- Write all the forces that are in favor of that decision or change on the right hand side and forces against, on the left hand side.
- To quantify the impact of each of the forces that you have written, you could also rate them. For example, 4 being a major force in favor or against and 1 being the minimum force in favor or against.
- When you calculate the total, it gives you a fair idea of whether the forces are in favor of or against the decision that you wish to take.
- Now once the opposing set of forces have been identified, we can either increase the forces in favor or work on strategies to reduce the forces that are against the change that we hope to achieve.
This strategy helps to not only think on a meta-cognitive level but also extend thinking in planning around the model created as it gives us a good analysis to support the synthesis of our action plan.
In the example above, it is seen that the forces against change is 14 points, of which ‘Time’ and ‘Lack of Trust’ have been identified as the most impeding factors for creating and sustaining professional learning communities (PLCs) in schools.
Once this has been identified, the school leadership can now re-look at their planning and scheduling so as to ensure that common time is allocated for the PLCs to meet and also look at ways in which trust between staff can be developed so that they feel safe in sharing their views and opinions in their PLCs. For example, setting up of group norms around expected behavior.
There is no guarantee that the decisions we take will always be right even when we use a model for decision making.
But having a model to use when in doubt is helpful.