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Find information about a range of approaches to managing organisational change – from Action Learning Sets, to the 7s model.

Search by the name of the model using the A-Z index

To view more click on the name of the model to expand to view more, including description, use, and strengths and limitations.

  • f Number of entries: 2
  • Five whys


    A simple yet powerful approach, it enables the factors that lead to a situation arising through asking a series of questions related to the event or issue.


    This approach is useful to guide the investigation of single problems or issues rather than explore an organisation holistically. Once a problem has occurred, the first ‘why’ question is ‘why did this happen?’. It is likely that a number of answers will be found, and for each the next ‘why?’ is asked: ‘Why is that?’. The sequence continues until the question has been asked and answered five times.

    five whys

    Strengths and limitations

    A very simple tool, it enables potentially complex events and influences which underlie a problem or negative event to be explored. It encourages the search for solutions to underlying problems rather than to simply deal with presenting symptoms. It may also be used with client groups, as part of a participatory approach, to encourage reflection on their experiences and identify root causes to be addressed.

    In relation to social care change its simple language makes it potentially accessible to staff and people accessing services although it does need to facilitated well to enable those taking part to challenge what may be long held assumptions and beliefs. It can be used throughout a change process to understand and therefore respond to the existing practice in an organisation and also why a change programme has encountered barriers to its implementation.

    Further reading

    1. Senge, P., Kleiner, A., Roberts, C., Ross, RB, and Smith, BJ. (1994) The fifth discipline fieldbook: Strategies and tools for building a learning organisation, New York: Doubleday
    2. Hewitt-Taylor, J. (2012) Identifying, analysing and solving problems in practice, Nursing Standard, 26, 40, 35-41
    3. Kohfeldt, D. and Langhout, RD. (2012) The five whys method: A tool for developing problem definitions in collaboration with children, Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 22, 4, 316-29
  • Force field analysis


    This diagnostic approach is designed to assess the likelihood of organisational change occurring within a given context. The forces in the title refer to the perceptions of staff about a specific factor and its influence;

    • Driving forces are those which seek to move change in a particular direction
    • Restraining forces act to reduce driving forces

    Equilibrium refers to the point at which the sum of driving forces is equal to the sum of restraining forces.

    field force model

    Lewin’s three ‘rules’ in relation to force fields and change are:

    1. Any increase in a ‘driving’ force results in an equal increase in ‘resisting’ forces; the equilibrium point is maintained, but under increased pressure / tension. Rephrased, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction;
    2. Consequently, effort should be made to reduce resisting forces, enabling movement toward the desired goal without increasing tension; and
    3. Group norms (‘culture’ are an important force in influencing organisational change, as perceptions constitute reality i.e. what is thought to be the case will inform action


    The approach is used once priorities for change have been identified and agreed, using methods such as SWOT, PESTELI, 7S or the Six-box model. Its value arises from its focus on the actions required to support successful implementation of the change programme though identification of, and response to, the specific ‘resisting’ forces at play.

    Strengths and limitations

    The approach is particularly suited to complex ‘political’ environments and offers an analysis of the increased tension and opposition that can arise through attempts to ‘force through’ change. For the approach to work in practice requires thorough and perceptive identification of resisting forces (diagnosis), and creative ways of addressing / reducing them (action).

    In relation to social care change it provides a simple framework that most people can follow and helps to bring clarity to barriers to and supports for change (including political influences and responses from staff and other stakeholders).

    Further reading

    1. Burnes, B. And Cooke, B. (2013) Kurt Lewin’s field theory: a review and re-evaluation, International Journal of Management Reviews, 15, 4, 408-25
    2. Lewin, K. (1951) Field theory in social science. New York: Harper-Row
    3. Self, DR and Schraeder, M. (2008) Enhancing the success of organisational change: matching readiness strategies with sources of resistance, Leadership and Organisation development Journal, 30, 2, 167-82