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Simulation & Gaming:
An Interdisciplinary Journal




Teams & teamwork
 D a v i d  C r o o k a l l, PhD, Editor,
S&G: An Interdisciplinary Journal
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From:  http://www.nwlink.com/%7Edonclark/leader/leadtem2.html     Big Dog's Leadership Page

Special Project Teams

Managers are people who do things right, while leaders are people who do the right thing. - Warren Bennis, Ph.D. "On Becoming a Leader"


NOTE: Special project teams include work groups, cross functional teams, task forces, problem solving teams, committees, etc.

Many organizations have working groups that call themselves teams. But their work is produced by a combination of individual contributions. Teams produce work that is based on collective effort. 

Katzenbach and Smith (1) defined a team as "A small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and common approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable."

The small number is anywhere from 2 to 25 members, with between 5 and 9 as manageable and optimal. It the number goes above 9, communication tends to become centralized because members do not have an adequate opportunity to speak to each other. If the group size goes over nine, extra time and effort are required to ensure good communication.

  • Complementary Skills provides synergy when the team is diverse and various ideas and multiple skills are combined. If the team is composed of like individuals, a congenital groupthink sets in which limits the number of solutions for creative problem solving.

  • Common Purpose is the driving force of teams. The team must develop its own purpose. This purpose must be meaningful and must have ownership by everyone, as individuals and as a group. A team constantly revisit its purpose, making it more relevant as the team develops. Often called Agendas. Hidden agendas may prevent the group from turning into a team. This is because their emotions and motives are hidden under the discussion table.

  • Performance Goals are the acting, moving, and energizing force of the team. Specific performance goals are established, tracked, met and evaluated in an ongoing process.

  • Common approach is the way members agree how they will work together. Many teams have developed their own charter or a set of rules that outline the expected behaviors of members. Members often assume roles, including the Questioner, the Historian, the Time Keeper, the Facilitator, to keep the team process moving and on course.

  • Mutually accountable is the aspect of teamwork that is usually the last to develop. It is owning and sharing the team's outcome.

Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, Adjourning

The Tuckman model (2) shows the five stages that teams go through: from Forming to Storming to Norming to Performing to Adjourning.


In the Forming stage, team members are introduced. They state why they were chosen or volunteered for the team and what they hope to accomplish within the team. Members cautiously explore the boundaries of acceptable group behavior. This is a stage of transition from individual to member status, and of testing the leader's guidance both formally and informally.

Forming includes these feelings and behaviors:

  • Excitement, anticipation, and optimism.
  • Pride in being chosen for the project
  • A tentative attachment to the team
  • Suspicion and anxiety about the job.
  • Defining the tasks and how they will be accomplished.
  • Determining acceptable group behavior.
  • Deciding what information needs to be gathered.
  • Abstract discussions of the concepts and issues, and for some members, impatience with these discussions. There will be difficulty in identifying some of the relevant problems.

Because there is so much going on to distract members' attention in the beginning, the team accomplishes little, if anything, that concerns it's project goals. This is perfectly normal.


During the team's transition from the "As-Is" to the "To-Be," is called the Storming phase. All members have their own ideas as to how the process should look, and personal agendas are rampant. Storming is probably the most difficult stage for the team. They begin to realize the tasks that are ahead are different and more difficult than they imagined. Impatient about the lack of progress, members argue about just what actions the team should take. They try to rely solely on their personal and professional experience, and resist collaborating with most of the other team members.

Storming includes these feelings and behaviors:

  • Resisting the tasks.
  • Resisting quality improvement approaches suggested by other members.
  • Sharp fluctuations in attitude about the team and the project's chance of success.
  • Arguing among members even when they agree on the real issues.
  • Defensiveness, competition, and choosing sides.
  • Questioning the wisdom of those who selected this project and appointed the other members of the team.
  • Establishing unrealistic goals.
  • Disunity, increased tension, and jealousy.

The above pressures mean that team members have little energy to spend on progressing towards the team's goal. But they are beginning to understand one another. This phase sometimes takes 3 or 4 meetings before arriving at the Norming phase.


The Norming phase is when the team reaches a consensus on the "To-Be" process. Everyone wants to share the newly found focus. Enthusiasm is high, and the team is tempted to go beyond the original scope of the process. During this stage, members reconcile competing loyalties and responsibilities. They accept the team, team ground rules, their roles in the team, and the individuality of fellow members. Emotional conflict is reduced as previously competitive relationships become more cooperative.

Norming includes these feelings and behaviors:

  • An ability to express criticism constructively.
  • Acceptance of membership in the team.
  • An attempt to achieve harmony by avoiding conflict.
  • More friendliness, confiding in each other, and sharing of personal problems.
  • A sense of team cohesion, spirit, and goals.
  • Establishing and maintaining team ground rules and boundaries.

As team members begin to work out their differences, they now have more time and energy to spend on the project.


The team has now settled its relationships and expectations. They can begin performing by diagnosing, solving problems, and choosing and implementing changes. At last team members have discovered and accepted each other's strengths and weakness, and learned what their roles are. Performing includes these feelings and behaviors:

  • Members have insights into personal and group processes, and better understanding of each other's strengths and weakness.
  • Constructive self-change.
  • Ability to prevent or work through group problems
  • Close attachment to the team

The team is now an effective, cohesive unit. You can tell when your team has reached this stage because you start getting a lot of work done.


The team briefs and shares the improved process during the this phase. When the team finally completes that last briefing, there is always a bittersweet sense of accomplishment coupled with the reluctance to say good-bye. Many relationships formed within these teams continue long after the team disbands.

Team Verses Group

There are several factors that separate teams from groups.

Roles and Responsibilities

Within a group, individuals establish a set of behaviors called roles. These roles set expectations governing relationships. Roles often serve as source of confusion and conflict. While on the other hand, teams have a shared understanding on how to perform their role. These roles include: leader, facilitator, timekeeper, and recorder.


While teams have an identity, groups do not. It is almost impossible to establish the sense of cohesion that characterizes a team without this fundamental step. A team has a clear understanding about what constitutes the team's 'work' and why it is important. They can describe a picture of what the team needs to achieve, and the norms and values that will guide them.


Teams have an esprit that shows a sense of bonding and camaraderie. Esprit is the spirit, soul, and state of mind of the team. It is the overall consciousness of the team that a person identifies with and feels a part of. Individuals begin using "we" more than "me."


Groups have a tendency to get bogged down with trivial issues. Ask yourself, "How much time gets wasted in meetings you attend?" Teams use facilitators to keep the team on the right path.


While members of a group are centered upon themselves, the team is committed to open communication. Team members feel they can state their opinions, thoughts, and feelings without fear. Listening is considered as important as speaking. Differences of opinion is valued and methods of managing conflict are understood. Through honest and caring feedback, members are aware of their strengths and weakness as team members. There is an atmosphere of trust and acceptance and a sense of community.


Most groups are extremely rigid. Teams, however maintain a high level of flexibility, and they perform different task and maintenance functions as needed. The responsibility for team development and leadership is shared. The strengths of each member are identified and used.


Team members are enthusiastic about the work of the team and each person feels pride in being a member of the team. Team spirit is high. To be a successful team, the group must have a strong ability to produce results and a high degree of satisfaction in working with one another.

Working With Other Team Members

Although we are like in many ways, we are dislike in a lot more ways. Humans have always tried to classify things, including themselves. This section uses a popular categorizer by placing people into four styles - Driver, Persuader, Analyzer, Organizer. (note that the names will vary widely depending upon the creator of the chart). It does this by charting them on two dimensions - tasks and emotions. People gets results on tasks between two extremes - expedience and processes. People use emotions in dealing with others through two extremes - controlled or responsive. In the chart below, the two dimensions are shown under the profile column in italics:  

Profile Style Key (focus) Potential Strengths Potential Weaknesses
A take-charge person, exerts strong influence to get things done, focuses on results. Emotions are controlled and gets results through expedience. Driver or
results and accomplishments (get it done) Get things done. Determined, requiring, thorough, decisive, efficient, direct In-attentative behavior when listening to others. Dominating, unsympathetic, demanding, critical, impatient
A social specialist, expresses opinions and emotions easily; prefers strong interaction with people. Emotions are responsive and gets results through expedience. Persuader or
involvement and enthusiasm (positive ideas and responses) Involves and works with others. Personable, stimulating, enthusiastic, innovative Hard time following systems or processes. Opinionated, undependable, reactionary
Likes to be well organized and thought out; prefers specific project and activities; enjoys putting structure to ideas. Emotions are controlled and gets results through processes. Analyzer or
precision and accuracy (actions will be documented) Great at organizing. Industrious, persistent, serious, orderly, methodical Can have trouble when action needs to be take immediately. Indecisive, uncommunicative, critical
Adaptive specialist, high concern for good relationships, seeks stability and predictability, wants to be part of larger picture. Emotions are responsive and gets results through processes. Organizer or
relationships and stability (loyal) Builds relationships. Cooperative, supportive, dependable, helpful Does not want to change. Conforming, uncommitted, hides true feelings

Notice that the two dimensions, results and emotions, are closely related to  Blake and Mouton's Managerial Grid which uses People and Tasks as their grid. That is, we use emotions when dealing with people and our approach to tasks uses some sort of a result orientation approach. When Blake and Mouton came out with a tool that used only two dimensions or axis, is struck a cord with its simplicity.  

There are various degrees along the two dimensions (emotions and tasks). Each experience that we have will call for varying degrees of emotions and approaches to task results.

The result (how we accomplish tasks) and emotions (how we deal with people and experiences) dimensions can be charted as:

There are three main flaws that must be taken into consideration when using a tool of this nature:

  • Everyone uses all four style depending upon the situation, however, the chart can be a useful tool for understanding different viewpoints. It is based on the theory that each person tends to have one or two dominant styles. 

  • The very simplicity that makes a tool like this so popular, cannot possible accurately predict the complexity of human nature. However, it can help us get a handle on the various approaches taken by individuals.

  • People try to pigeon-hole the four styles of people into certain categories. For example, managers are drivers, human resource personnel are persuaders, programmers are analysis's, etc. This is simply untrue. Where I once worked, our human resource contact was a driver, our manager was a persuader, one on the employees on the bottom of the rung was a driver, and one of our best technical persons was an organizer. However, most of the employees (workers in a manufacturing plant) were organizers, analyzers, or a combination of the two.

The goal of using such a tool in a team setting is to realize that people look upon things with a different viewpoint than you. For example, the reason someone will not hurry-up and compete a task in not because they are slow, it might be because they are viewing it from a process standpoint and want to ensure that they get it absolutely right (analyzer). Also, it takes all types to form an effective team. Without drivers a team will get nothing done, without persuaders a team will fail to get all involved, without organizers a team will not gel together, without analyzers a team will miss key steps. The four styles form a complete community, and it takes a community to grow a team.

How Do We Arrive at a Solution? or Encouraging Wild and Great Ideas

All to often, creativity gets stifled when everyone follows the rules or arriving at solutions the same old way. Teams often become so task- oriented that they narrow down their focus much too soon by choosing the first likely solution. It is time to adequately investigated the situation and its possibilities by: 

Team Checklist

  • Goals
    • Clear mission statement _____
    • Measurable objectives _____
    • Objectives are prioritized _____
    • Goals are set in all key task areas _____
  • Roles
    • Individual roles, relationships, and accountabilities are clear _____
    • Style of leadership is appropriate for the team tasks _____
    • Each individual competent to perform her key tasks _____
    • The mix of roles is appropriate to the team tasks _____
  • Procedures
    • Decisions reached are effective _____
    • Management information is effectively shared _____
    • Key activities are effectively coordinated _____
    • Products and services are of a high quality _____
    • Conflict is managed effectively within the team _____
  • Internal Relationships
    • There are no areas of mistrust _____
    • Feedback is constructive _____
    • Relationships are not competitive and unsupportive _____
  • External Relationships
    • Relationships with key external groups are effective _____
    • Mechanisms are in place to integrate with each key group _____
    • Time and effort is spent on identifying building and monitoring key external relationships _____


  1. Katzenbach, Jon R. and Smith, Douglas K. (1986). The Wisdom of Teams, Harvard Business Review Press.
  2. Tuckman, B.W. "Developmental Sequence in Small Groups," Psychological Bulletin, vol. 63, 1965, pp. 384-399.
  3. Bodwell, Donald J. A. (1996, 1997). High Performance Team
  4. IBM Corporation (1993). Ideas on Teams and Teamwork.
  5. Margerison, C. and McCann, D. (1985). How to Lead a Winning Team, MCB University Press.
  6.  Wellins, Richard & William, Byham,  & Wilson, Jeanne (1991). Empowered Teams: Creating Self-Directed Work Groups That Improve Quality, Productivity, and Participation. Jossey-Bass.

Created May 11, 1997. Last update - February 12, 2000.
Big Dog's Leadership Page
Donald R. Clark

From:  http://www.nwlink.com/%7Edonclark/leader/leadtem2.html

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Peace and survival of life on Earth as we know it are threatened by human activities that lack a commitment to humanitarian values.  Destruction of nature and natural resources results from ignorance, greed, and a lack of respect for the Earth's living things... .  It is not difficult to forgive destruction in the past, which resulted from ignorance.  Today, however, we have access to more information, and it is essential that we re-examine ethically what we have inherited, what we are responsible for, and what we will pass on to coming generations.  Clearly this is a pivotal generation... .  Our marvels of science and technology are matched if not outweighed by many current tragedies, including human starvation in some parts of the world, and extinction of other life forms... .  We have the capability and responsibility.  We must act before it is too late.  Tenzin Gyatso the fourteenth Dalai Lama.