Last week Francesca posted on Bruce Tuckman’s model of group work on a collaborative project. To recap, a group passes through four phases: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning. I find this an intriguing model, and I agree with Francesca that we are currently in a sort of “Forming” stage, but I also find myself revisiting our work on the charter a few weeks ago and thinking, “Wasn’t there a some Storming going on then?” It was relatively courteous storming, but I think in working to establish our deepest desires for this project and the experience of the coming year, frustrations did occur and personalities clashed. Encouraged by our SLab mentors, we determined to hastily conclude work on the charter and thus enabled ourselves to focus on game play, which we did for a spell with a vigor which I would consider… Formative Performing. Now that we spend more time in the less emotionally charged world of command line and CSS, we have relaxed, are peaceful, take turns speaking, and have probably slipped into more casual Forming; but there was disagreement in the charter-writing days, and I wonder if Tuckman’s model might not require some rethinking.
I envision a model of group work where we can view the team as passing through Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning; but perhaps a group may need to work through the various stages more than once depending on what it is doing. I think one of the virtues of our group is that we are all opinionated and feel strongly. On the one hand, that can lead to the sorts of clashes we experienced with the charter, but on the other, we have a fabulous team of six passionate scholars whose cumulative ideas are certain to birth greatness by the end of the year!… To recover from that moment of enthusiastic wordiness, in short, I think our group will likely be revisiting the Storming stage when we get into determining what our Ivanhoe game will be. Then we will make a decision, settle down, see how our various strengths will help the project as a whole and define individual roles, and create a plan (Norming?). Then we can begin Performing once again.
This is a wonderful model to consider, and I applaud Francesca for bringing it to bear and encourage Storming. It is easy to look on conflict as negative, but Tuckman incorporates it as a healthy part of group growth and development, and I look forward to the stormy days ahead as the forerunners of brilliant productivity.