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Team Performance Beyond Tuckman

The Tuckman Model of group development is well-known and provides much insight into how a group of individuals evolves into a high performing team. It’s four/five stages form a mantra for many managers who have enjoyed learning about the model at a training event. They have the huge merit of being easy to remember – because they rhyme (perhaps a lesson to any model builder!

Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing – Mourning

Beyond Tuckman

But there are other models – not least because Tuckman’s model is not subject to copyright. One of the best is the Drexler/Sibbet Team Performance Model, which belongs to The Grove Consultants International. It is widely used in association with their Team Performance Inventory, and as a support to their Graphic Facilitation Pocess.

The Drexler/Sibbet Team Performance ModelThe illustration below is a simplified version. For the full version of the chart, you should refer to the Grove’s website, as it is a protected model.

The Drexler/Sibbet Team Performance Model


What I like about this model is firstly, that it identifies the team issues that are resolved at each stage, and also those that are left un-resolved. Secondly, I like the way that, what in Tuckman is a single stage – ‘Norming’ – is dissected into three components here: Goal clarification, commitment and implementation.

My interpretation is that Goal Clarification starts, for Tuckman, in the Storming phase, but only truly resolves in Norming. Likewise, the process of implementation starts in the Norming stage and continues in Performing. Drexler and Sibbet go beyond Tuckman’s term, ‘Performing’ and use the term ‘High Performance’.

An Historical Perspective

While researching this, I found an article by David Sibbet, in which he describes the genesis of the model. Here is an extract:

‘In early 1980 I began working with my colleague Allan Drexler on a formal model for teams called the Drexler/Sibbet Team Performance; System. Earlier research by Allan had generated a simple, four-step model that mirrored the first four stages in process theory. I argued that the model needed to be extended to explain not only the “creating” stages but also the “sustaining stages.” Allan was very experienced with business teams. I applied process theory and eight years, and as many versions later, our Drexler/Sibbet Team Performance™ Model (TPM) has become the standard in the field and used worldwide.’

Also on the same website is another interesting model that David Sibbet had a hand in, The Sibbet/Le Saget Stages of Organization model.

So here’s the deal

The Tuckman Model is excellent – it explains and predicts much. But it is not the only model of team development. We can learn much from the comparisons between different models of the same phenomena. Each will emphasise different aspects, and bring new insights.

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