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"Stages of Team Development"

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I read and am told in Scouting that "all" teams follow the model of team development taught in Wood Badge and NYLT.


The first stage ("Forming") is said to be characterized by high enthuisiasm and low skill.


Compare to:


"In the first stages of team building, the forming of the team takes place. The team meets and learns about the opportunity and challenges, and then agrees on goals and begins to tackle the tasks. Team members tend to behave quite independently. They may be motivated but are usually relatively uninformed on the issues and objectives of the team. Team members are usually on their best behavior but very focused on themselves. Mature team members begin to model appropriate behavior even at this early phase. Sharing the knowledge of the concept of "Teams - Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing" is extremely helpful to the team.

Supervisors of the team tend to need to be directive during this phase.


The forming stage of any team is important because in this stage the members of the team get to know one another, exchange some personal information, and make new friends. This is also a good opportunity to see how each member of the team works as an individual and how they respond to pressure."



Not quite the same.


As it happens, I was a member of a team ay work that started with very, very low enthusiasm. ("This job is career suicide" was an observation that got majority support.) I don't know if "skills" were low, but relevant information was certainly low. So call it "low morale and low competency." In the end, the team pulled off what our CEO called a "miracle."


I feel that perhaps the qualifiers used by Tuckman and Blanchard have been overlooked.


I am generally suspicious of any statement of human behavior that includes "all."


I would like to engage in a meaningful discussion of how the writings of Tuckman and Blanchard have been taken up by, or morphed by, BSA in Wood Badge and NYLT.


I cannot find anyone locally who feels comfortable talking about this topic one-on-one -- even with a vow of confidentiality. They seem to catch a whiff of heresy in the air.


Suggestions?(This message has been edited by TAHAWK)

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"All" does wind up being a pretty big word.


I, for one, have been involved in at least two groups that skipped the storming phase entirely. In both cases there was an external threat that bonded the groups.


I'm not versed in Tuckman and Blanchard, but the BSA position still seems a useful model for discussing group dynamics in general terms.

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I know that some changes have been made to the syllabus since I was last involved in WB.

The syllabus I have does state that the Model can be used to indicate what a team will go through. Not that every team will go through it.

From what you posted it seems to me that you are talking more about the task at hand and not the team (People) who will be doing the job.

While I might be wrong?? It also seems that the people knew each other and that there was no need for the team to form or at least not all the team to form.

With this Forming out of the way the team went straight into the Storming Phase.


"Individuals in the group can only remain nice to each other for so long, as important issues start to be addressed. Some people's patience will break early, and minor confrontations will arise that are quickly dealt with or glossed over. These may relate to the work of the group itself, or to roles and responsibilities within the group. Some will observe that it's good to be getting into the real issues, whilst others will wish to remain in the comfort and security of stage 1. Depending on the culture of the organisation and individuals, the conflict will be more or less suppressed, but it'll be there, under the surface. To deal with the conflict, individuals may feel they are winning or losing battles, and will look for structural clarity and rules to prevent the conflict persisting."



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"[T]he BSA position still seems a useful model for discussing group dynamics in general terms."


Sure. But if the message is that ALL teams go through these stages in this order or that in its initial stage a team is ALWAYS "high enthusiam/low skill," we don't necessarily have a tool any more. We may have something more like an article of faith.




"The sheer scale of such theory - by seeking to present a universal or general picture can mean it over-reaches itself. While there may be some 'universals of development' when we come to examine, in this case, the individual group things are rarely that straightforward. Human processes are frequently characterised by variability and flux. Furthermore, our own experiences of groups are likely to show significant deviations from the path laid out by stage theories. 'Stages' may be missed out, other ways of naming a phase or experiences may be more appropriate."


Moreover, as I suggested in my OP, I am not sure Tuckman's "stages" are being accurately described. The closest he came to "low skills" was "relatively uninformed on the issues and objectives of the team."

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I think you are missing an important part of the wording - ALL teams will GO THRU the stages, though they may not start in the same way. The descriptor of a team at each stage may differ, but the important lesson is the process they go through.

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Eamonn, if my experience was a single exception, I would have no concern. I think there are many exceptions. Further, "a new member is a new team" is part of this theory of team development. As it happens in my personal example, some fo the team were strangers to most of the team -- one a stranger to all others in the team. Most of the team emphatically didn't want to be on the team. "High enthusiasm"? Hardly.


I have deliberately not quoted from the WB or NYLT syllabii, nor will I. But if you know "what's in there," what do you think of the difference between Tuckman's model and the WB/NYLT version? Or Blanchard's, for that matter?


Have we improved on Tuckman and Blanchard or failed to understand?




There is no question that the message some see in WB and especially NYLT is that there is a set order - FSNP. That is contrary to Tuckman's message. Beyond that, Tuckman defines the stages differently.


If we are going to discuss specific syllabus/PP slide language, it needs to take place elsewhere.

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I would of course be happy to talk about this via email.

To be honest I'm not really sure where we are going?


As leaders of small teams. Adults who lead Units, committees or youth who lead teams; Patrols or PLC. Having some kind of an understanding of what most small groups will go through is a good thing.

Lots of different things can happen to a group.

I have worked with groups that really never get past the Forming Stage. Some members of the group for whatever reasons, never really become part of the team. At times the team will forge ahead and still go through the other stages leaving this person (Or sometimes more than one person) behind. Sometimes this will cause the group to just fail and fall apart.

Some teams will accept a new team member and the new member will fit right in with little or no fuss, skipping the Forming Stage (Or the team moves through it so fast, no one really notices.) While with some teams the addition of a new face will mean starting all over again.

I have worked with a team that was able to manage a specific task well, but when faced with a task they were unfamiliar with, they (We) went back to a kind of "Re-Forming" and then moved on to the Storming.

My point is that while this "Stages of Team Development" is worth looking at and worth trying to understand. It is helpful as an indicator.

Which of course means that the word "All" is out of place.


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