Force-Field Analysis

  • Objective: To understand the nature of an issue by identifying factors that contribute to the problem and factors that can improve the situation, as well as explore potential solutions to a problem.
  • Materials/Preparation: Flipchart paper, colored pens, idea cards, markers, A4 or letter paper.
  • Participants: This can be done with CARE staff and partners, or within communities. The ISOFI Toolkit recommends 4-25 participants for this exercise.


After introducing the exercise and objectives, the facilitator introduced the issue identified by participants and a depiction of the problem (word, symbol, picture) is noted on a flipchart.

The facilitator then formed two columns under the problem title/depiction, explaining that one column represents ‘restraining forces/barriers’ while the other represents ‘helping forces/enablers.’


Example Issue: Domestic violence against women

Restraining Forces/Barriers

Helping Forces/Enablers




Allowing time for participants to think about the issue, the facilitator asked participants to identify 5-7 barriers and 5-7 enablers to the issue, and write them on a sheet of paper.

Once completed, participants took turns sharing one barrier and one enabler for the issue. Each idea was then written on idea cards and placed in the corresponding column for the whole group to see.

This was done until all factors had been discussed. The facilitator then asked participants to rank each of the listed factors by importance.

To conclude the discussion, the facilitator then posed a number of question about potential strategies to address the issue, and listed them on a separate piece of paper. Questions may include:

  • Based on the list we just made, what are some of the more significant barriers/enablers to the issue?
    • Probe→ Why are these the most significant? Have they always been significant or has this changed?
  • Are any of the barriers/enablers listed different in nature and/or significance in the context of the work that is done in your respective organizations?
  • How can some of the enablers listed be used to address the issue?
  • How can these barriers and enablers be developed into action plans/strategies?



  • CARE and ICRW (2006). Walking the Talk. Inner Spaces, Outer Faces Initiative: A Gender and Sexuality Initiative.