There really is nothing new under the sun (force field analysis vs traction model)

TJL #128

While reading Great Mental Models by Shane Parrish in the chapter about Inversion I came across this quote:

One of the theoretical foundations for this type of thinking comes from psychologist Kurt Lewin.10 In the 1930s he came up with the idea of force field analysis, which essentially recognizes that in any situation where change is desired, successful management of that change requires applied inversion. Here is a brief explanation of his process:

  1. Identify the problem

  2. Define your objective

  3. Identify the forces that support change towards your objective

  4. Identify the forces that impede change towards the objective

  5. Strategize a solution! This may involve both augmenting or adding to the forces in step 3, and reducing or eliminating the forces in step 4.

Even if we are quite logical, most of us stop after step 3. Once we figure out our objective, we focus on the things we need to put in place to make it happen, the new training or education, the messaging and marketing. But Lewin theorized that it can be just as powerful to remove obstacles to change.

The inversion happens between steps 3 and 4. Whatever angle you choose to approach your problem from, you need to then follow with consideration of the opposite angle. Think about not only what you could do to solve a problem, but what you could do to make it worse—and then avoid doing that, or eliminate the conditions that perpetuate it.

Compare that with the traction model from the book Indistractable by Nir Eyal:

How to:

  1. Avoid stupid choices

  2. Make good choices

It is often easier to make a system to do 1 repeatedly

So yeah…

“Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, it must be said again.” —André Gide.