Monday, April 18, 2011

Force Field Analysis: A Tool for Decision-Making

I'm always looking for tools that can help groups may decisions or select a strategy. One I've used regularly is the Force Field Analysis. It can help to identify a clear course of action and is anchored in the belief that every idea has both advantages and disadvantages.

When you use a Force Field Analysis you consider both the driving forces and the restraining forces, the things that facilitate and inhibit change. Driving forces are the things that affect an issue and push it in a particular way; they tend to be things that initiate a change and keep it going. Restraining forces are those things that act to restrain or decrease the driving forces.

Start by stating the problem or desired outcome in clear, concrete terms. Then discuss and identify those factors working for and against the desired state. Then review and clarify each factor assigning a score from 1 (weak) to 5 (strong), or high, medium or low. Finally, discuss the factors and their scores. The discussion often helps you identify appropriate next steps and become the focus for a plan of action.

There are many tools to help with decision-making. I like the Force Field Analysis because it tends to depersonalize the discussion. I'd enjoy hearing from you about other ways you use to help with decision-making.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Merit Pay

Race to the Top legislation rekindled the discussed about the benefits of merit pay for both teachers and principals. Over the past few decades many districts and several states have launched merit pay systems with inconsistent results on student achievement. Several independent studies have looked at the impact of merit pay and provide disparate results. The Denver Public Schools have had positive results from their system while a study of a program in Nashville found no differences in achievement. Other studies in Florida and Texas provided mixed results.

The National Center on Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt University is one of the most comprehensive sources of up-to-date information about merit pay plans and the research on their success (

During the past year I have authored two Research Briefs on the subject. They include one on Merit Pay for Teachers, and one on Merit Pay for Principals. These briefs are available on the website of The Principals Partnership, sponsored by the Union Pacific Foundation, and on my website (

As always I would welcome hearing from you about your experience with merit pay or about questions or comments you may have about the topic.