“The Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing model of group development was first proposed by Bruce Tuckman in 1965, who maintained that these phases are all necessary and inevitable in order for the team to grow, to face up to challenges, to tackle problems, to find solutions, to plan work, and to deliver results. This model has become the basis for subsequent models of group development and team dynamics and a management theory frequently used to describe the behavior of existing teams. It has also taken a firm hold in the field of experiential education since in many outdoor education centers team building and leadership development are key goals.”
Stages of group development
- Forming: The group comes together and gets to initially know one other and form as a group.
- Storming: A chaotic vying for leadership and trialling of group processes
- Norming: Eventually agreement is reached on how the group operates (norming)
- Performing: The group practices its craft and becomes effective in meeting its objectives.
- Adjourning: The process of “unforming” the group (disintegrating), that is, letting go of the group structure and moving on. (Tuckman added this stage 10 years later:)
When you change a team, the dynamics of the team change. So one has to go through each phase once again, which causes a decrease in productivity. It’s something to be aware, when being involved in projects (either as a member or as project manager).
- Note that the model was designed to describe stages in small groups.
- In reality, group processes may not be as linear as Tuckman describes them, but rather cyclical.
- Characteristics for each stage are not set in stone, and as the model deals with human behavior, it is sometimes unclear when a team has moved from one stage to another. There may be overlap between the stages.
- The model does not take account of the individual roles that team members will have to undertake. Compare: Belbin Team Roles
- There is no guidance on the timeframe for moving from one stage to another. This is a subjective as opposed to an objective model.