by Paula on February 8, 2012

I was sorting out some paperwork yesterday and came across some old case studies on the stages of Team Development. Are you familiar with Bruce Tuckman’s 4 stages of bringing together and growing a team?

Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing.

To summarise, they describe the stages that new teams go through to become effective.

  • Forming is when they first come together & are driven by a desire to be accepted.
  • Storming is when the conflict & problems arise and are battled through.
  • Norming is when co-operation and compromise has set in and the goals have been set.
  • Performing is when teams are motivated & working together and can achieve incredible results.

It’s not always as straight forward and simple as progressing steadily thought the stages, and often changes to the team or the goals can head them back into the storming phase again.

What struck me was the likeness of these phases to the phases companies go through with their projects, and the reason why projects can fail.

I’ll take Social Media as an example but the logic applies to business projects.


  • The company becomes aware of Social Media as a potential marketing tool.
  • They read a little bit about it on the internet and see that other people are doing it.
  • They decide it’s definitely something they should be doing.


  • They start using Social Media.
  • Everyone has different ideas of what they should be doing and no-one has any idea of what they are trying to achieve.
  • The get frustrated, feel they are wasting time and are tempted to give up, leaving a littering of neglected social sites linked to their company brand.


  • They take professional advice tailored to their business.
  • The develop a plan and a strategy.
  • They know what they are trying to achieve and who will be responsible for it.


  • They start to see results.
  • They recognise what they have achieved as they have been monitoring it.
  • They excel in their activities and speak highly of Social Media as a business tool.

As I said, this relates not just to Social Media but to so many business projects. The idea is there, they decide to give it a go, but at the stage where the difficulties come up and there is conflict, arguing, lack of knowledge and costs and time seemingly wasted, they stop and give up.

This leaves:

  • Staff who fail to buy in to projects as they know they will fall over and not be seen through.
  • Business Managers frustrated, trying to do everything themselves and unsure how to move things forward.
  • Clients seeing half hearted attempts at areas of business growth and no follow through and commitment.
  • Lack of belief in the people and the tools when actually it’s the management, the systems and the processes that need the proper attention.

Does this sound familiar in your business? Can you recognise where your project is on the scale? What are you doing to make sure that you get through that Storming phase and ensure that you don’t stop until you’ve reached Performing?

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