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Swift Trust–Why some Teams don’t Storm

One of the most familiar management models is Bruce Tuckman’s model of Group Development – sometimes known in the US as the ‘Orming Model’.

A Summary of Tuckman in under 100 words

Tuckmans Model of group Development

Forming

The team comes together in anticipation, enthusiasm, and uncertainty about their roles and their colleagues.

Storming

As they get to know their colleagues and leader, disputes arise over direction, leadership and status.

Norming

The team settles into productive work and establishes ways of working together.

Performing

Team members are comfortable with one another and understand their roles, so the team gets loads done.

Adjourning

The project comes to an end and team members go their separate ways.

For more detail on Tuckman, see the Management Models Pocketbook, or read some of our other blogs on the subject.

The Problem

One of the commonest questions I get asked is this:

‘Mike, I’m not complaining, but why didn’t my team storm?  We all got on with it and moved quickly from Forming to Norming and even Performing.’

My usual first answer is that ‘teams will storm’.  When the pressure for a new team to achieve quick results is lifted, the internal pressures will emerge and, albeit out of sequence, the team will storm.

Teams will storm

This is the Nature of Models

A model can predict or explain, but the nature of a model is to simplify.  This means that, by definition, it must be wrong sometimes!  The better a model, the less frequently it is wrong.

But neither this observation, nor my assertion that ‘teams will storm’ explains why they sometimes don’t storm at the ‘right’ time, nor more so, why some teams do not storm at all – yes, my assertion could be wrong too.

Swift Trust

My answer is hidden in an earlier Management Pocketblog, and in Ian Fleming’s Virtual Teams Pocketbook: ‘Swift Trust’.

The concept was first articulated by Debra Meyerson, Karl Weick and Roderick Kramer and is the subject of a chapter in the cross disciplinary review book, Trust in Organizations, edited by Kramer and Tom Tyler (1996).  Sometimes teams come together rapidly and need to work together effectively without the time it normally takes to build trust.

In some circumstances, trust can be built quickly and this, I suggest, is what delays and even stops the Storming phase.  In my earlier Pocketblog, I offered these six conditions:

  1. Presuming each team member has earned their place
  2. Trusting other people’s expertise and knowledge
  3. Creating shared goals and a shared recognition/reward scheme
  4. Defining a clear role for each person to play
  5. Focusing on tasks and actions
  6. Taking responsibility and acting responsively

Swift Trust emerges when people are willing to suspend their doubts and concerns about colleagues and just get on with a shared task.  They focus on their goals, their roles and the time constraint they are under.

Leadership Role in Creating Swift Trust

Leaders can help foster Swift Trust in seven ways:

  1. Building a great first impression in the earliest days – this will have a big influence on the team
  2. Building relationships from the outset and learning about team members
  3. Swiftly and constructively dealing with concerns and issues as they arise
  4. Creating a feeling that they are present even when they are elsewhere
  5. Encouraging frequent team communication
  6. Using private methods rather than public forums to deal with under-performance
  7. Recognising and celebrating achievements frequently

So here’s the deal

Your team doesn’t have to storm, but if you want to avoid it, you have to build trust: swiftly.

Management Pocketbooks you might Enjoy

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Team Leadership

One of the most popular models of team leadership is John Adair’s Action Centred Leadership.

Three Circles

In this model, leadership expert, John Adair, identifies three overlapping circles of concern for a team leader: the team’s task, the team itself, and the individuals in the team.

It is a wonderfully simple model that encourages you to weigh the attention you give to each, against the needs of the situation.  Adair has much to say about your responsibilities in each category.

John Adair's Three Circles Diagram

More Circles

Like any model, part of its value comes from its simplicity.  The price of simplicity, however, comes from what the model misses, neglects or under-represents, in achieving a memorable elegance.

Here are three more circles (among many), that one could add to Adair’s model.

Organisational Context

There are a lot of reasons for team leaders to focus beyond their team and onto the wider organisational context within which their team sits.  Firstly, how does the team’s task set fit into the wider group of activities?  Team leaders need to know this to set the team’s tasks in context and therefore give them meaning – one of the most important motivators.

Under this heading, we can also consider the team’s relationships with a wide range of stakeholders, and the interest those stakeholders have in the team’s work.  Particular among those stakeholders are other teams.  The team leader needs to find ways to manage the interfaces and dependencies with other teams and work streams.

Finally, we have to acknowledge the role of politics.  Not what many of us sign up for in the world of work, but for team leaders, actively navigating their organisation’s political reefs is a necessary expedient.

The Leader’s Emotional State

Never under-estimate the impact of your emotional state on your team’ was arguably the best management advice your author ever got (thank you George Owen, if you ever get to hear of this blog).

Team members will look to you for all sorts of guidance and, unconsciously, will take their emotional cue from you.

Vision of the Future

Not only should you be looking beyond your team, as team leader, but look beyond the now of today’s tasks and today’s team and today’s individual.  What will your team need to do tomorrow, and next week, and next month, and next year?  And how do you need to evolve it to prepare the team and its individuals to deliver?

Show your team vision.  While some are motivated by pride in what they are doing today, others need to see what is in store.

Join the debate – what would you add?

Please do use the comments facility below to tell us what you would add to this model.

Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

You can read about John Adair’s Action Centred Leadership in The Management Models Pocketbook.

The Management Models Pocketbook, by Mike Clayton

Other Management Pocketbooks you might like are:

The Leadership Pocketbook

The Teamworking Pocketbook

The People Manager’s Pocketbook

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Einstein, Model building and Simplification

It’s time to come clean: I started my career as a Theoretical Physicist.  And, for all the changes of direction in my life (I’m on the third at the moment), I always will consider that as the core of my identity.

So, not surprisingly, my hero is Albert Einstein.  A bit of a cliché, I know, but he did overthrow our entire perception of the universe and, in just one year, solved three of the biggest puzzles facing science at the start of the twentieth century. Incidentally, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for arguably the least well-known, most narrow of these (Brownian Motion) – the other two (Quantum Mechanics and Relativity) being seen as too radical.

Anyway, one of my favourite bloggers (Glen Alleman – Herding Cats – a serious and heavy project management blog) cited this quote of Einstein’s:

‘It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience.’

Synchronicity or Coincidence?

This came a couple of days after a reader of this blog, Resli Costabell, suggested:

‘I’d love a blog about how to come up with models.  I have all sorts of beliefs and insights and techniques, but I’m not great at translating those into nice simple models that people can mentally grab onto.’

A Blog about how to come up with models …  No

My problem is how to fit such a big topic into one blog – especially as I wittered on for three paragraphs about Einstein.  So this will be the first of a series of blogs, with other topics in between, so it doesn’t get too geeky.

Classification of Models

To help us in discovering how to create a model, I think it’s helpful to start by classifying models – a model of models, if you like.  There are many ways we can do this and, as you’d expect, a model or two might be called for!

So this first model is a model of the different purposes for which models are created and used.  There are three principal* purposes for a model.

  1. Explanation
    Models of ‘what is’ address our need for understanding
  2. Prediction
    Models of ‘what will happen’ address our need for certainty
  3. Process
    Models of ‘how to’ address our need for control

ModelTypesVennWe can illustrate these with a Venn Diagram – overlapping circles.  This makes our model less rigid, by accepting that a model can simultaneously fulfil two – or even all three – of these purposes.

We could plot each model that we have into one of the three circles and, if it fulfils two or more criteria, it will sit in an overlap.

What Mathematicians Know

What mathematicians know is that a model that does not fulfil any of these purposes will sit in the area outside of all the circles.

* Remember the emphasis on the word principal above.  Is it conceivable that a model could fulfil a different purpose?  Yes, of course it is.  I can’t think of anything significant, so I have kept my model as simple as I can.  If you build a model too complex, it hard to apply.  If you build one that is too simple, it is useless.

The Art of model Building

… is to walk that fine line.  So I will give the last word to Albert Einstein again.  The quote at the top of this blog is often itself simplified to:

‘Everything should be made as simple as possible,
but no simpler.’

Ten Recent Pocketblogs about Models

  1. The CECA Loop
  2. Management and Leadership
  3. Spiral Dynamics
  4. Mehrabian and the Feedback Sandwich
  5. Equity Theory
  6. Social Networks
  7. Six Category Intervention Analysis
  8. Mediation
  9. Logical Levels of Change
  10. Thomas Kilmann Conflict Modes

Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

As a lover of models, here are some of my favourite Management Pocketbooks:

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The World belongs to Unreasonable People

Kurt_Lewin‘There is nothing so practical as
a good theory’

So said psychologist Kurt Lewin, whose model of change is one of the most valuable resources that managers have [mental note – great blog topic].

But it is foolish to ‘swallow a model whole’, as Peter Honey points out in his foreword to the Management Models Pocketbook.

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Instead, Dr Honey gives the following prescription:

Take a model

Distil it into techniques you can use

Test the techniques in practice

Review and refine

Keep practicing until you become skilled

That’s a pretty good model (a free extra in a book with an advertised ten models!).  Peter, by the way, has a new website and blog, and his thoughts are always worth reading.

The CECA Loop

The third and fourth steps of what I will now call the The Honey Model-users Model are about validating a model.  This is the purpose of a rather fine tool, developed by defence scientist, David Bryant: the CECA Loop.

image

The CECA Loop starts with two models:

  • A conceptual model of how you want the world to be
  • A situational model of how the world really is

Critique

First, evaluate the extent to which the two models are consistent with one another.  They do not have to be the same – one is clearly the world as you would like it to be.

Explore

Seek out information that will allow you to evaluate your models.

Compare

Now assess the extent to which the two models are the same or different.  When you understand the gaps, you can …

Adapt

Finally you can change your world or change your behaviours or change the way you perceive your world, to move one of your models towards the other.

‘The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.‘
George Bernard Shaw
Irish dramatist & socialist (1856 – 1950)

So here’s the deal

Changing the world: how much more practical can a good theory get?

Some Management Pocketbooks you might Enjoy

The CECA Loop is Bryant’s modernisation of the OODA, which he believes is out-dated.  I believe that the two models can work well together, but let’s remember that both Bryant, and John Boyd, the developer of the OODA Loop, were both interested in the military context.

Their work has wider applications and, like Peter Honey, I believe that, as long as we properly attribute their ideas, we are free to adapt them to our own needs.

The Management Models Pocketbook has a chapter on Boyd’s OODA Loop.

You might also enjoy:

The Managing Change Pocketbook

The Creative Manager’s Pocketbook

The Learner’s Pocketbook

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Maslow on Steroids

Maslow

One of the best known, most widely used, and least researched models that managers are introduced to is ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’.

Maslow argued that our motivations and values change as our needs change.  Once a need is fulfilled, we turn our focus onto the next one, in a hierarchy from physiological needs for survival and shelter, up to higher needs that, arguably, drive those of us who have everything we ‘need’.

You can read all about Maslow’s Hierarchy in The Motivation Pocketbook.

Clare W Graves

Clare Graves was a student and near contemporary of Maslow, who wanted to produce a better model.  In doing so, he focused on different views of self actualisation and categorised a whole hierarchy of value systems.

His model, now formalised as ‘Spiral Dynamics’ sets out a series of value sets that mark out increasingly mature world views.  It takes Maslow’s model to a higher level of complexity.

Spiral Dynamics

These world views can be interpreted as personal value sets, or as group cultures.  They represent the different ways different people think about issues.  As we as individuals, organisations and societies progress up the spiral, we are coming to grips with more complex and sophisticated ways of seeing the world.

The Levels of Spiral Dynamics

In simple terms, the levels of the spiral are:

  • Beige: Need for personal survival – focus on the present
  • Purple: Need for group and family security
  • Red: Need for personal power and control
  • Blue: Need for stability, order and conformity
  • Orange: Need for autonomy and success – a capitalist paradigm
  • Green: Need for harmony, community and social cohesion
  • Yellow: Need for independence and personal responsibility
  • Turquoise: Need for global community and global survival

Spiral

The usual thing

Whilst Graves originated the thinking behind the model, it was formalised and given the name ‘Spiral Dynamics’ in the 1996 book Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership and Change by Don Beck and Chris Cowan.  As is often the way (for example, with Situational Leadership), the authors have developed the model in slightly different ways.  You can read about their interpretations at:

http://www.spiraldynamics.org/
… the website of Chris Cowan’s NVC Consulting, and

http://www.spiraldynamics.net/
… the website of Don Beck’s Spiral Dynamics Integral

So here’s the deal

Models are useful if they explain or predict aspects of the world.  Spiral Dynamics – in either interpretation – offers a way to understand people’s responses to situations and also the cultures of organisations and societies.  Culture clashes emerge when sub-groups are forced together, that have value sets at different levels in the spiral.

Management Pocketbooks you may enjoy

The Emotional Intelligence Pocketbook

The Working Relationships Pocketbook

The Workplace Politics Pocketbook

The Cross-cultural Business Pocketbook

The Diversity Pocketbook

The Managing Change Pocketbook

The Management Models Pocketbook

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The Secret to Success

Before moving to Hampshire, I lived on the edge of Surrey and Kent, and became a Governor at a fantastic and forward thinking school, Warlingham.  Warlingham School is a Business and Enterprise Specialist School, which is very active in promoting its specialism through the whole curriculum, and through many special events for the pupils.

On one of these events, I was asked to speak to a large group of younger pupils.  As a professional speaker, this was, perhaps, my toughest gig.  I decided to tell them what every young teenager needs to know in life – the secret to success.

No Snake Oil Merchant

Before you start wondering if I was peddling snake oil, or “the secret”, or some mystical approach, stop now.  The formula I promoted requires application and effort.  It follows common sense, and it is taught in military colleges around the world.

Because of its military roots, it is not well known – yet it deserves to be.  It is brilliant for managers in managing your team and your function, for leaders in reviewing progress, for anyone who wants personal success and, of course, for young people setting out to succeed. It went down a storm.

So what are you contributing to Schools?

I learned a lot by getting involved with Warlingham School, and later, as Chair of Governors at a primary school.  And I hope they got something from my contribution.

We hear a lot about “Big Society” but the truth is that volunteering has always been a big part of British society.  And the biggest single group of volunteers is school governors.  According to School Governors’ One-Stop Shop, there are 300,000 governor places in England, with around 40,000 vacancies – that’s over a quarter of a million active governors!

… and a load of opportunities to get involved.

Make a Business Contribution

18-22Oct

Visit our Schools and Colleges week runs from 18-22 October and offers a collaboration between schools and colleges, and business leaders and senior staff.  Whether you work in the private, public or third sector, here is a chance to spend a couple of hours helping your local school or college and I promise you will love it.

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From the Visit our Schools and Colleges website:

During the week of the 18-22 October leading CEOs and other senior staff from the private and public sectors, at the invitation of head teachers, will visit state schools throughout the country. It will be chance for them to hear from headteachers and young people about their schools, to witness that work at first hand and to discuss how they could work together to help young people reach their potential.

  • It’s free to register and be involved
  • Visits only take 2 hours in October

The National Campaign, the first of its type, will harness the huge appetite across schools, colleges and employers to work together by making it easy and simple.

Hundreds of thousands of employers are already working with schools and colleges and helping young people and at the same time seeing the benefits to themselves of doing so – motivation and retention of their employees who volunteer as well as building their reputation in the community.

Learn about the OODA Loop

9781906610036You can see my original presentation to the children (with an extra page) on Slideshare.net. and read all about it in chapter 10 of the Management Models Pocketbook.

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Other Management Pocketbooks you might Enjoy


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