Innovation Cues: Force Field Analysis

When Kurt Lewin came up with the framework for Force Field Analysis it was only applied to social situations, as in conflicts/society. If we take the same framework to innovation it becomes hugely applicable in developing ideas within an organization, which in itself is a complex social setting. In this post I will try to explain the basic form of force field analysis and how I think it can be applied in an innovation context.

First the concepts, “force” is a factor that drives movement within a setting, and “field” is an overall/gestalt setting as combination of many elements including motives, needs, ideals, values etc. In the analysis we list down forces that move a goal in opposite directions as is like below

Goal: _____________________________________

Worst Outcome aka Hell: _____________ Ideal Outcome aka Heaven: __________
Forces in the negative direction

Forces in the positive direction


Key questions to ask in the analysis after you list forces are

  1. What can I do to eliminate/reduce the forces that are against developing an idea further?
  2. How can I reinforce/strengthen the positive forces that will push the idea further faster towards an ideal outcome?
  3. Can I add a new positive force?

It is interesting to note the similarity between Ideal Final Result or Future Backwards here. But the key difference is force field analysis is centered in the “NOW” (not on a future or past), thereby assessing the current setting and draw a path to creating favorable conditions for innovation to flourish.

Even if it means communications/messaging, building relationships, having an open conversation, resolving conflicts of interests, agreeing to share credits/power/outcomes, among other “political” action that an innovation manager does. 


In depth analysis of FDI in Retail

Although the policy has been there for quite sometime, I had to do my analysis before predicting any outcomes. I will focus on data points and the recent press release from the government, noting catches and feasibility of the stores across India.  Background material that I have used is all linked here starting from the original policy circular, addendum press note,  census data, and other references.

First off this policy is only an enabling policy and states are still free to take their own discretion. Considering the negligible amount of collaboration that had gone behind this policy formulation, other than the favored states mentioned in the policy, there will not be many other takers.

As per census 2011 data on urban population metro area, the policy allows the following 49 cities eligible

City Favorable State/Territory Population (2011)
1 Hyderabad Andhra Pradesh 6,809,970
2 Visakhapatnam Andhra Pradesh 1,730,320
3 Vijayawada Andhra Pradesh 1,048,240
4 Guwahati Assam 963,429
5 Delhi Delhi 11,007,835
6 Faridabad Haryana 1,404,653
7 Srinagar Jammu and Kashmir 1,192,792
8 Mumbai Maharashtra 12,478,447
9 Pune Maharashtra 3,115,431
10 Nagpur Maharashtra 2,405,421
11 Thane Maharashtra 1,818,872
12 Pimpri-Chinchwad Maharashtra 1,729,359
13 Nashik Maharashtra 1,486,973
14 Kalyan-Dombivali Maharashtra 1,246,381
15 Vasai-Virar Maharashtra 1,221,233
16 Aurangabad Maharashtra 1,171,330
17 Navi Mumbai Maharashtra 1,119,477
18 Solapur Maharashtra 951,118
19 Jaipur Rajasthan 3,073,350
20 Jodhpur Rajasthan 1,033,918
21 Kota Rajasthan 1,001,365


Unfavorable territories/states

  City Unfavorable State/Territory Population (2011)
1 Patna Bihar 1,683,200
2 Chandigarh Chandigarh 960,787
3 Raipur Chhattisgarh 1,010,087
4 Ahmedabad Gujarat 5,570,585
5 Surat Gujarat 4,462,002
6 Vadodara Gujarat 1,666,703
7 Rajkot Gujarat 1,286,995
8 Dhanbad Jharkhand 1,161,561
9 Ranchi Jharkhand 1,073,440
10 Bangalore Karnataka 8,425,970
11 Indore Madhya Pradesh 1,960,631
12 Bhopal Madhya Pradesh 1,795,648
13 Jabalpur Madhya Pradesh 1,054,336
14 Gwalior Madhya Pradesh 1,053,505
15 Ludhiana Punjab 1,613,878
16 Amritsar Punjab 1,132,761
17 Chennai Tamil Nadu 4,681,087
18 Coimbatore Tamil Nadu 1,061,447
19 Madurai Tamil Nadu 1,016,885
20 Lucknow Uttar Pradesh 2,815,601
21 Kanpur Uttar Pradesh 2,767,031
22 Ghaziabad Uttar Pradesh 1,636,068
23 Agra Uttar Pradesh 1,574,542
24 Meerut Uttar Pradesh 1,309,023
25 Varanasi Uttar Pradesh 1,201,815
26 Allahabad Uttar Pradesh 1,117,094
27 Kolkata West Bengal 4,486,679
28 Howrah West Bengal 1,072,161


Number of favorable states with more than 3 cities eligible is only 3 namely AP, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. I doubt if the likes of Wal-mart would commit investment in a state having just 1 city above the population threshold. Of course states can choose if they do not have cities more than 10 lakh and allow investments but it clearly does not favor the investor to make any returns from smaller cities.28/49 of those cities are in unfavorable states that are not supporting UPA directly and 21 are in UPA support states.

To open stores there are other considerations including land, and sourcing assuming demand exists.

Average time needed for land acquisition in Maharashtra (most favored state above) for large-scale development has been around 2 years, and that too after approvals from state. Many reasons exist including the political nature of the transactions itself, as has been seen in so many of the SEZ transactions, Singur, POSCO, etc. With the Land Acquisition Bill yet to be tabled there might be a window of opportunity as the bill renders most land acquisitions unviable. 50% of the minimum USD 100 million is to be invested in back-end development excluding land costs and rentals. That leaves a maximum of USD 50 million for land and development. My rough calculation assuming a nominal market rate of 4000 per sq ft leaves with around 600, 000 sq ft possibility. Obviously no retailer will invest in such a large format and a reasonable strategy could be to split and invest in many stores and distribution network.

Back end infrastructure norms is possibly the most useful part of the entire policy. Food loss is ranging from 25-35% in India before it can be consumed (for horticultural produce it is even higher), and don’t get me started on the amount of waste that happens as part of the government controlled distributions. Control on this and possibly selling these warehousing, transportation services to other retailers will definitely cut inflation and help the overall economy as efficiency improves.

Supply side issues coming from the sourcing norms listed in the policy are as follows 1. there may not be enough number of suppliers in favored states like Rajasthan 2. quality of produce may not be on par with retailer standards 3. amount of produce cannot meet regulatory norm of 30% from small industries. Hence transport costs will add to the retailer burden here especially when subsidies are reducing on fuels, this is not a major issue as most retailers always run large and efficient distribution and transportation network.


My feeling is, extremes of this policy being completely anti-farmer or anti-common man to being completely pro-investor or pro-consumer are both incorrect. Projections on outcomes including job creation,  creating efficient back-end, and encouraging ‘small industries’ are all far-fetched considering favorability for investor in only few pockets. Enabling conditions for quality investments (even for domestic institutions) in retail is still a long way to go including cost of land, capital, variety of demand etc. May be with some clever network + a lot of dealing we may see a few stores around Maharashtra (favorable demand + party in power), and MP (favorable sourcing) in pockets. That said FCPA norms could be a bigger show stopper than anything else at least for US listed entities trying to invest in India. Kiranas will still thrive and their inefficiencies are solvable at their scale, without any stimulus from government.


Politics on the Intranet

Politics happens in the media covering mandates, parties, policies, power and all the rest of it. Power to control resources (money, people, time) for a limited period is the “Whats in it for me” (WIIFM) for a player. Media has a different set of WIIFM that may be for advocacy, publicity, subscription or other altruistic objectives. The players’ WIIFM are not the same as media’s WIIFM, but they use each other for good or bad and information becomes free and plenty. But they never ignore or act aloof of each other.

The same thing does not happen inside the enterprise, where there is no dearth of politics or the media which is your intranet with all its openness.
1. An ignored intranet is not a great place to do advocacy,
2. a completely closed set of html pages showing policies is not a great place to tell a viewpoint on why change is needed,
3. Leaders don’t logon to the intranet,
4. and information is in closed circles specifically information that is used to control resources.

Litmus test for an intranet is thus “does your organizational politics happen there openly, and does it impact decisions?”. If no value is there, there is no politics. Conversely presence of politics is evidence of value.