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Stages of Group Development

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 2 months ago

Stages of Group Development

In management theory, there's a lot of talk about getting groups together to do a project, and how they tend to work things out. A fellow called Tuckman analysed the process in the 1960s and came up with a model of it. Setting aside the management-babble of proactively seeking a new paradigm of lateral thinking outside the square, what we get is that groups go through several stages. These are:- Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjournment. In management, groups are brought together for a particular purpose and then break up. In roleplaying and other voluntary activities (social volleyball, hiking, etc) the group doesn't have a particular goal which when reached, the group dissolves. So for voluntary groups we have to add the stage of Stagnation. There are some other differences, too, which we'll see when we get into it. The stages are presented in the usual order they happen, but as you'll realise it's not always as neat as this.


In brief, the stages are for groups,

  • Forming - first gets together, people are tentative and polite, and nothing is achieved
  • Storming - sorts out its structure and purpose, and there are many conflicts
  • Norming - settles down and begins going where it needs to
  • Performing - people working together in harmony, achieving things
  • Adjournment - purpose about to be achieved, group sees end coming, feels regret and nostalgia
  • Stagnation - loses direction, but is so set in its ways it can't change easily.


In voluntary social groups, it's very common for groups to break apart in the "Storming" stage. An understanding of the natural development of groups can help them through their troubles. Roleplaying is a social creative hobby, and in the beginning, things are entirely social, by the time the group's reached the Performing stage, the creative aspect has become important, too.


You should keep in mind that these stages aren't inevitable, from one to the other. Groups can move through to Norming, then some new member comes in and stirs things up and they're back to Storming, and so on. There are many ways back and forth and round.

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