Posted on

Tuckman Plus

The conclusions in Bruce Tuckman’s ‘Developmental sequence in small groups’ are among the best known management models.  In it, Tuckman proposed that groups go through four stages of development: forming, storming, norming and performing.

Later, he and Mary Ann Jensen wrote a follow-up article, ‘Stages of small group development revisited’, in which they proposed a fifth stage, adjourning.  We summarised these stages earlier this year, and looked at why teams don’t always go through the storming phase.

The Tuckman Group Development Lifecycle model: forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning

Critical Review

Tuckman and Jensen’s critical review in 1977 was just the first re-analysis of Tuckman’s original 1965 paper.  As recently as 201, there was a wide review article: ‘40 years of storming: a historical review of Tuckman’s model of small group development’ by Denise Bonebright, a graduate student at the University of Minnesota.  In it, Ms Bonebright concludes that there are new theories that are ‘exponentially broader and deeper than Tuckman’s original model. They provide detailed discussion of many aspects of group dynamics from forming through adjourning.’

These theories examine a range of other factors, and yet they do not

‘provide the same breadth of application. HRD scholars and practitioners can learn something from a model that has proved valuable for almost 45 years. The utility of providing a simple, accessible starting point for conversations about key issues of group dynamics has not diminished.’

Can we extend Tuckman’s Model?

There are two principal extensions to Tuckman’s model that give valuable insights, yet do not add unnecessarily to its complexity.  We will look at the more sophisticated early in the new year, and tackle the simpler, commoner one here.

Yawning

Are you getting tired at the end of a long year?  Is your team getting stale and bored?

Tuckman Group Formation - Yawning Phase

A lot of management trainers add an extra phase beyond performing: ‘yawning’.  This recognises that a team, once formed and into performing stage, can become stale.  It is a teaching aid as much as an extension of the  model, to highlight the importance for a team leader to keep the team fresh and challenged – in both the task and relationships dimensions – if you are to maintain high performance.

It is also a reminder that, if your team slips from its high performance levels, this may be what is happening.

Tuckman Model of Group Formation - extended to include Yawning phase

Some Management Pocketbooks you Might Like

The Management Models Pocketbook, bt Mike Clayton

The Tuckman model and its variants are described in The Management Models Pocketbook.

You might also like:

Share this:
Posted on

Reciprocity and Expectation

I got a phone call out of the blue yesterday.  I have noticed that this kind of call can either be a complete waste of time (’do you want to save money on your toner cartridges/wine/mortgage/pet insurance?’) or thought-provoking.  This one was most certainly the latter.

Tip of the day

You may have noticed on the main Management Pocketbooks website (you can get to it by clicking the logo at the top of the right hand column next to this blog) the Tip of the Day function.

SeeOurTipoftheDayTipoftheDay29Apr2011

If you click on it, you will get a different tip each day.  This caller had done just that, and got one of mine.

Keeping Promises

‘If I keep my promise, will you keep yours?
If I don’t believe you will, why should I bother?
Vroom’s model of motivation!

This tip came from the Management Models Pocketbook, where I describe Victor Vroom’s Expectancy Theory.  This is the section in the free extract you can view on the Management Models Pocketbook page, by clicking on ‘view extract’.

The tip was about the way that we can fail to motivate others if we get a reputation for not delivering on promised rewards.  But the tip had resonated with my caller in another way.

Honesty and Reciprocation

In her job, Alison had been thinking about the importance of truth and honesty.  She had read the quote and thought about the reciprocation of honesty, which got us into an interesting discussion about the nature of truth.

Reciprocation appears to be a fundamental part of human nature.  It is the basis of a large part of our society:

  • Trade, commerce and negotiation
  • Moral philosophy (do unto others… – the so-called ‘golden rule’)
  • Community and the trading of favours
  • Criminal justice (punishment fitting the crime – an eye for an eye)
  • Diplomatic exchange and warfare

Of course pure reciprocity is not always seen as the ideal in all of these cases.  In negotiation, a win-win goes beyond pure exchange of fair value and in moral philosophy, alternative approaches have developed and extended the golden rule, starting with Kant’s categorical imperative.  In community, the concept of paying forward, rather than paying back emerged in the 1950s and hit its peak of popular awareness in the 1990s with the film ‘Pay it Forward’.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPcwQi-AnWI]

There is no need to analyse the failings of tit-for-tat reciprocity in the criminal justice and diplomatic arenas!

In the world of influence, reciprocity is king

As Richard Storey points out in the Influencing Pocketbook, appeal to self interest is a powerful influencer.  But what is equally powerful is to appeal to our innate instinct to reciprocate a gift or a concession.  It is as if, your self interest served, you feel a need to express your gratitude with a reciprocal action.

This offers me a powerful way to influence your thinking or your behaviour.  If I meet your need or give you something you want, then you will feel an urge to give me something in return.  If I give you an honest answer, then you are more likely to be honest with me.

Game theory

But here is where the problem lies.  If I deal honestly with you, can I expect you to deal honestly with me?  If I do trust you and you reciprocate, we can get the best possible collective results, but if you cheat on  me, you optimise your gain, while I lose out.  So what should I do?

This is the domain of ‘game theory’ – the mathematical study of sequences of plays within a set of rules, where the players have some choice.  It turns out that tit-for-tat is a pretty good strategy…

… but not the best.  Constant cheating and constant trusting are both poor strategies, but one strategy stands out.

I am wondering whether I should share this.  What are the ethics of sharing a strategy that must mean some cheating, some trusting and some tit-for-tat behaviour?  Hmmm, that is something to think about.

So here’s the deal

The optimum strategy  in part depends on the strategy of your counter-party – your ‘opponent’ in the game.  But one of the most successful strategies seems to be ‘modified tit-for-tat’.  This means you start by reciprocating, to build trust, but every now and then, take advantage of the situation by cheating.  Then, revert to tit-for-tat behaviour to rebuild trust… and so on.

Does that sound familiar?  I have encountered it a number of times and it hurts.  For those of us who believe we act fairly and with integrity, encountering it in someone we trust is unpleasant.  It leaves us with a difficult choice: one I faced recently.

Should I reciprocate the cheating behaviour?  That was my instinct.  But maybe pure reciprocity is not the ideal strategy.  I relented and resorted to a tactic designed to rebuild trust.  Does this make me a gullible mark, ready to be fleeced the next time?  I don’t think so, because there is always one strategy I have not yet rolled out: not cheating, not trusting, not tit-for-tat.

You can always stop playing the game.

Some Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

The Negotiator’s Pocketbook

The Influencing Pocketbook

The Handling Resistance Pocketbook

Share this:
Posted on

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.

.

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

Share this: