Ming the Mechanic:
Stages of group development

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Stages of group development2006-12-07 21:07
by Flemming Funch

In 1965 educational psychologist Bruce W Tuckman described 4 stages of group development. The stages are essentially the result of the study of various kinds of small groups in different environments, noticing that they seem to go through certain distinct phases. Which we could say is important in trying to figure out how a group of people might become a community or a team. These are Tuckman's stages:
Stage 1: Forming

Individual behaviour is driven by a desire to be accepted by the others, and avoid controversy or conflict. Serious issues and feelings are avoided, and people focus on being busy with routines, such as team organisation, who does what, when to meet, etc. But individuals are also gathering information and impressions - about each other, and about the scope of the task and how to approach it. This is a comfortable stage to be in, but the avoidance of conflict and threat means that not much actually gets done.

Stage 2: Storming

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.

Stage 3: Norming

As Stage 2 evolves, the "rules of engagement" for the group become established, and the scope of the group's tasks or responsibilities are clear and agreed. Having had their arguments, they now understand each other better, and can appreciate each other's skills and experience. Individuals listen to each other, appreciate and support each other, and are prepared to change pre-conceived views: they feel they're part of a cohesive, effective group. However, individuals have had to work hard to attain this stage, and may resist any pressure to change - especially from the outside - for fear that the group will break up, or revert to a storm.

Stage 4: Performing

Not all groups reach this stage, characterised by a state of interdependence and flexibility. Everyone knows each other well enough to be able to work together, and trusts each other enough to allow independent activity. Roles and responsibilities change according to need in an almost seamless way. Group identity, loyalty and morale are all high, and everyone is equally task-orientated and people-orientated. This high degree of comfort means that all the energy of the group can be directed towards the task(s) in hand.
I've certainly noticed these steps in action. Is it the only way it can happen? I'm not sure. And even though one can outline stages, it is not a given that one will know how to get from one to the other. But identifying where one is at can be a step forward in itself.

In 1977 Tuckman refined his model and added one more step:
Stage 5: Adjourning

This is about completion and disengagement, both from the tasks and the group members. Individuals will be proud of having achieved much and glad to have been part of such an enjoyable group. They need to recognise what they've done, and consciously move on. Some authors describe stage 5 as "Deforming and Mourning", recognising the sense of loss felt by group members.

Hm, interesting to put that as a stage. It is right of course. Sometimes one's membership of a group doesn't totally fall into place before the group members more or less have moved on to something else.

There are lots of versions of Tuckman's model on the net. This one is from here.

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7 Dec 2006 @ 23:31 by Hanae @ : Oldie But Goodie - more from that site:
"Tuckman's original work simply described the way he had observed groups evolve, whether they were conscious of it or not. But for us the real value is in recognising where a group is in the process, and helping it to move to the Perform stage. In the real world, groups are often forming and changing, and each time that happens, they can move to a different Tuckman Stage. A group might be happily Norming or Performing, but a new member might force them back into Storming. Seasoned leaders will be ready for this, and will help the group get back to Performing as quickly as possible."

"Many work groups live in the comfort of Norming, and are fearful of moving back into Storming, or forward into Performing. This will govern their behaviour towards each other, and especially their reaction to change."

The fifth phase, adjourning, which was added later by Tuckman involves completing the task and breaking up the team.

"A team that lasts may transcend to a transforming phase of achievement. Transformational management can produce major changes in performance through synergy and is considered to be more far-reaching than transactional management."  

8 Dec 2006 @ 00:06 by Hanae @ : The prospect of New Synegistic Models
might hopefully come about as a result of the rapidly evolving technologies that have been emerging and are affecting how people are getting together in new useful and unexpected ways.

I don't know, somehow stage 1 and stage 2 seem like a waste of time and stage 3 too often turns into a dead-end. Wouldn't it be nice if it were possible to come up with a system which made it possible to jump straight into stage 4 and be able to do so in such a fashion that the concerns of "who you know" or "how well you know them" and the issue of trust would be made irrelevant. I don't know of such a model, though the Internet is probably a privileged arena for such a model to evolve. The closest approximation I can think of is Wikipedia - though it seems to function more like an hybrid between stage 3 and stage 4, at this point---with the occasional regression to stage 2, depending on how controversial a the topic is.  

8 Dec 2006 @ 07:10 by ming : Jumping ahead
As regards to skipping some of the steps, I was about to give, as example of spontaneous cooperation, what I observed after the 1992 Los Angeles Riots. Volunteers cleaning up, bringing food, directing traffic, etc, without knowing each other. But then again, that was indeed after phases of trying to be nice, working out conflicts, revealing objectives, etc. Just not for the exact people who showed up, necessarily.

I was thinking that some kind of disaster might get people to work together very quickly without going through the steps. If a child falls into the water, somebody will jump in, others would be ready to drag them out, others would have made the right phonecalls, etc., without knowing each other. But in a way, one could say that one just sorts out those stages very quickly. In a second you'll figure out who you best can trust and what you'll expect from them.

But maybe for more aesthetic purposes. A flashmob. A group of people who suddenly get inspired to act in a synchronized synergetic way, simply because it feels right or it is a beautiful thing. Doesn't happen very often, but it does.  

8 Dec 2006 @ 07:54 by vaxen : Yes but...

1: Realise that your mind is a recorder.

2: Realise that your mind has been recording reality all your life and is replaying it daily, often 'good' and 'bad' alike.

3: Stop replaying the bad things and replay more of the good things.

4: If you project new factors into the reality that others will record from you (and replay for many years), make sure they consider the greatest good.

Easily, Nicely, Smoothly, Precisely

Observation, Orientation, Decision (Hypothesis), Action.

Isn't she wonderful?


Guardian Order
OS 9
Council of 13

8 Dec 2006 @ 13:19 by rayon : Architecture
would be Performing and Transforming together. Working creatively, lateral thinking, within project recognition (like recueing a child) speeds up the process and allows trust. Adjourning is an area to witnessing greatness in the passing, post achievement. This could an area of learning too, which might link back to the beginning of this Formation series, to make the wheel?  

8 Dec 2006 @ 13:41 by jerryvest : What I have noticed about groups that I
have been involved in is that groups tend to be more ego centered and rarely achieve high levels of interaction, cooperation and participation. On the other hand, the later developments in teamwork show that the "level" of a team equals the level of its lowest member. In other words, groups tend to be hierarchial while real teams value everyone's contribution and importance. Teams also identify various functions necessary for success and since all functions are equally important, the team members are equal as well--thus, no superior-inferior positions as commonly experienced in 'groups'. Sometimes this is just semantic as I have rarely been in organizations where teamwork is operationalized.

In teamwork that I participated in, these were our commitments:

"Rules for Internal-External Agreement."

1. A Team has agreement to make it the best possible.

2. It agrees to have an "Open Process"--to speak openly of all concerns of the Team.

3. The Members/Participants agree to take responsibility of the entire team. The thought must be, "I am The Team."

*Abstracted from "Teamwork, Cooperation and Interaction" by Oscar Ichazo.

Thanks for introducing "group work." I enjoy discussing these various approaches to improving ourselves and our work effort. In academia where I spend much of my 'time', we mostly work as groups and there is very little commitment to be our best and we rarely include students and others in our planning of our courses and in self-care. We just torture them by keeping them bored and separate from the process. (There are exceptions of course.)  

8 Dec 2006 @ 18:16 by vaxen : Gruppen
As Malcolm Gladwell recounts in his book The Tipping Point (http://www.amazon.com/Tipping-Point-Little-Things-Difference/dp/0316346624/sr=1-1/qid=1164652230/lewrockwell) , Kitty Genovese was viciously assaulted, stabbed three times, and finally killed, on the way to her Queens, New York, home one night in 1964. Thirty-eight neighbors heard or watched her ordeal, but no one called the police until the attack was essentially over. The murder was universally seen as a horrifying example of modern-day indifference to the plight of others. But, Gladwell explains, psychologists Bibb Latane and John Darley conducted experiments that led to a far different explanation: "When people are in a group . . . responsibility for acting is diffused. They assume that someone else will make the call, or they assume that because no one else is acting, the apparent problem . . . is not really a problem." Ironically, then, it was not that no one called to help Kitty Genovese "despite the fact that thirty-eight people heard her scream; it's that no one called because thirty-eight people heard her scream."


9 Dec 2006 @ 05:03 by vaxen : The ''Group"
Getting warmer yet?

Remember the Third Reichs' Group Grope?


Sig! Sig Heil!



Available in Copen-Hagen Freely  

9 Dec 2006 @ 11:27 by ming : Vaxen
Sometimes your ramblings are amusing, but, hey, you're scaring away the customers in my coffee shop here. So, please, try to say something that's a little relevant to the subject.  

9 Dec 2006 @ 15:59 by vaxen : Sure...
Rantings? I Don't suppose that your 'rantings' could be classed as anything more than...rantings either?


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.

"Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience…therefore [individual citizens] have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring." : Nuremberg War Crime Tribunal, 1950

"Some explanations of a crime are not explanations: they’re part of the crime.": Olavo de Cavarlho  

9 Dec 2006 @ 18:02 by ming : Rantings
Well, I did say "ramblings". Yes, getting warmer.

Somebody said that an organization is the aggregated irresponsibility of its members. Which I guess can apply to any group. So, yes, if 38 people hear a crime in progress, each of them might well think that somebody else probably is taking care of it.  

9 Dec 2006 @ 21:02 by vaxen : Yup...
heh, heh... just like those old Americans. Don't forget your roots, though, somebody might accuse you of being an intellectual snob and a psychiatrist! Haven (not heaven) forbid! I still love you though and would fight for your right to your own self determism. Hey, guess what? I do!

If it isn't butter, it isn't butter.

Kha Khan

You don't even re-cognize me a little bit?
The anchor on your chain?
Would you consider Cyber Deck 13
as an open space for you,
or some other,
if I gave you the password?

Probably not, but itsa nice drop.


Itsa Bash #...?
Or is that Korn #...?  

9 Dec 2006 @ 22:15 by ming : Vax
Well, I appreciate that you'll stand up for my right to my self determinism.  

9 Dec 2006 @ 22:25 by vaxen : Oooo...
that little moco was hard to get out, wasn't it? ;)
I know, I know, but I just came in from choppin lotsa yar
In our little neck of sector 9. Thanks...

Beware of hidden contracts.  

10 Dec 2006 @ 11:08 by swanny : Incontinence
It is preferable to have some "logic" and avoid
the "incontinence" which is well hmmmm what it is I suppose.
To many cooks I think have a tendancy not only to spoil
the soup but perhaps turn it into BS.  

29 Apr 2016 @ 04:57 by Skip @ : HxGrEBRtLydz
Rolala j’adore cette soupe… !!! Mais je n’ai jamais tenté avec du curry ! En tout cas mon filleul n’aimant pas du tout ce qui est légume et encore moins les carottes, ça me permet au moins de lui en faire manger en version #68;mixée&28217;. Le curry doit bien relever le goût de la soupe non ? je vais tenter ça la semaine prochaine ^^  

Other stories in
2014-11-07 23:12: Welcome to the 5th dimension
2011-11-07 17:22: Notice the incidental
2010-07-14 13:35: Consciousness of Pattern
2010-06-28 00:03: Pump up the synchronicity
2009-10-29 14:03: Convergent or Divergent
2007-08-05 23:45: Perverse incentives
2007-06-22 22:18: Elementary magic
2007-03-21 14:20: Cymatics and group formation
2007-03-15 01:06: Structural holes
2007-02-27 23:50: Leverage

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