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Force Field Analysis

Force Field Analysis

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Quick Overview

This model categorises parties interested in a programme or project into four.

  • “Yes Sayers”

  • “No Sayers”

  • Users

  • Coach, Dracula and Backer.


Related models: Time Management MatrixProjectmanager RadiusForce Field AnalysisSteering ParametersDevils TriangleSMARTBARTStakeholder Salience Model



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Force Field Analysis



We do not know the source of this model. One of the members of once took a course through Coach and Commitment and used his notes to come up with thins information.

Related models: Time Management MatrixProjectmanager RadiusForce Field AnalysisSteering ParametersDevils TriangleSMARTBARTStakeholder Salience Model



The model

This model categorises parties interested in a programme or project into four.

      “Yes Sayers”

      “No Sayers”


      Coach, Dracula and Backer.

“Yes Sayers” are those who have the money. They are able to weigh the pros and cons (or at least they should …. J) of more or less investment and the result. They usually hold positions in which they take decisions with a relatively large impact on the organisation’s health. The horizon is at least three years and they can see the direction towards which the organisation should be heading.

“No Sayers”

“No Sayers” are the people who think they are “Yes Sayers”. They have ‘limited’ insight into the total added value of a project or programme. This limited insight does not necessarily mean a personal restriction (mind you it does exist ….) but rather a restriction because of the specific role they play. This usually involves specialists who are lined up for a specific task (e.g. architects, testing managers, project management officers, controllers or quality managers. They think in one-year terms focussing specifically on the proposal you have dropped on their desk.

It takes quite a few visits to convince these people that in this specific case your proposal should indeed be implemented in this way. The project management officer thinks you are spending too many hours in six months, the test manager sees too many risks in delivering the test environment so soon, the architect states that this does not meet the long-term blueprint, the controller first want to have a proper administrative setup while the quality manager believes too many obligatory ‘deliverables’ are being cancelled. So (in essence) the attitude is this: if they say “No” first a change is required before you may proceed. In other words: if they say “Yes”, you may go ahead. Usually it is the real “Yes Sayer” who takes the plunge accepting the risks. This overrules the decision of the “No Sayer”. For indeed, that cyber attack on your computerisation system will really threaten your organisation in a few months’ time. Better to settle for one plan less and one more risk.


The user’s time scope is NOW. You want to change something. The user is annoyed. Particularly if what is good now is deteriorating. You are entering his domain, his work, his life. That is why users want to help you decide.

Coach, Dracula and Backer

The Coach is capable of opening doors for you. He is the one who thinks you’re OK, he is flattered by the way you behave, perhaps he considers you to be his protégé but above all he is the person who can appreciate your end result. The Coach does not always have an official role in your programme for legitimacy reasons (see ‘stakeholder salience model’). People are reasonably difficult to trace down. Once you get to ‘know’ them you may use them to open up doors for you.

Dracula does not like you. Or perhaps he likes you, but he does not like your project. Dracula will try to frustrate your project or programme in different ways. Usually he will do so villainously. Somehow your project is a threat, or perhaps you are the threat or maybe a chore from the past is still relevant.

The Backer does not keep his opinion to himself. He wants to influence decisions. Sometimes from the sideline, other times he will step in the limelight. If the decision works out well by definition the Backer will take the credit. If the decision turns out to be a failure, the Backer will have had little to do with it. The Backer is the person usually dancing hierarchically like a rocket across the organisation. Going higher every time. Results seem to be OK. His successors, however, are suffering because of the mess he has created and which is found underneath the remains. The Backer will leave the organisation in no time. The odds are that he will soon be facing the Peter Principle: reaching the first level of incompetence. He will not give up though.


How to use it

Conducting a force field analysis usually pays off. This can be done in different ways. This is only one of them. The good thing about this model is the fact that it pays much more attention to people’s behaviour rather than the rational tough side such as the hierarchical power. Map the people and discus your analysis with at least one confidential adviser. Never publish your analysis and do not save it on the network disc. Surely you too would not like to be referred to as the “No Sayer”, Dracula or Backer.

After finishing the analysis decide on how you wish to deal with these people.


“Yes Sayer”

As for the “Yes Sayer” try to determine his financial space. Address him informally every now and then and make sure an official report of the situation and progress is ready frequently. Make sure this information is correct. Sharing wrong state of affairs with “Yes Sayers” is deadly. Perhaps you can afford a white lie with a “No Sayer”, “Yes Sayers” are allergic to it.  For “Yes Sayers” have great responsibilities; their decisions have great impact.

“No Sayer”

The “No Sayer” usually has a nameplate. These are institutes within an institute. You must visit. The workplace is easy to find because the “No Sayer” has been there for years. He is the specialist and knows all there is to know. The bigger (slower, more bureaucratic) the organisation, the more “No Sayers”. Matrix organisations too have many “No Sayers” counterbalancing the common cowboy behaviour displayed by the “swingers” who will do the job. The raison d’être of the “No Sayer” is to prevent anarchy and chaos. It is an attempt towards controlling and reducing risks. And you are involved. So make sure to tune your strategy accordingly. Prepare the most necessary and basic story towards this “No Sayer”. Tune matters verbally in advance, build up a relationship with him, pay compliments and report explicitly to the steering group about the positive input of this “No Sayer”. The more so if he is positively flexible. And let him know so.

Invite the “No Sayer” over for drinks. The “No Sayer” is usually a small part of the whole and indeed, you cannot invite everyone for drinks. You can only invite fulltime staff. Wrong. Entertaining the “No Sayer” lavishly to the sum of 100 euro could easily save you 40 hours …J


The user wants peace and quiet. He does not wish to worry about his deteriorating work situation. That is how a change is usually experienced. Involve the user informally and frequently. Give the user an explicit role and make sure he has something to say about the decisions. In any case the user is most sensitive to the four pillars of commitment. Make sure you detail each one of them.


Coach, Dracula and Backer

Try speaking informally to the Coach. Even if you are not certain whether it was he who undid a certain problem, at least be positive about the fact that a ‘force’ has managed to solve matters. Praise will be appreciated without speaking about it explicitly.

Informal contact is also recommended in dealing with Dracula. Try to find out his objectives and KPIs. Analyse the impact of your own project/programme and how it will interfere with his objectives. Try to steer discussions as such to find out his or her feelings. Dracula behaviour can also have a personal reason. Make this delicately discussable and feel out how far Dracula is willing to go to provide clarity. It may help you determine the right strategy to ‘manage’ Dracula during the assignment.

The Backer has already been described briefly. In dealing with a Backer there is at least one thing you must do. You must record what he says and ensure formal agreement (minutes, mail review etc.) It is the only way to evenly share ‘praise’ and ‘flop’ with the Backer.


Good luck, and say “Yes” whenever a Coach is willing to help! 


Related models: 

-   Time Management Matrix

-   Projectmanager Radius

-   Force Field Analysis

-   Steering Parameters

-   Devils Triangle


-   BART

-   Stakeholder Salience Model






The product:

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- Description, full colour, pdf