Wednesday, December 30, 2009

8 + Team Development Models

Team development refers to a process and activities for improving team performance. Team development activities can range from simple bonding exercises to intensive, multi-day team development retreats.

Team development is usually used when an interdependent team needs to improve the way they work together to achieve shared goals. If a team is facing challenges, dropping balls, blaming each other, etc., diagnostics and treatment are often necessary.

There are several proven, effective team development models available. A leader should pick one, learn it, and use it consistently. Organizations can also benefit from using a common model. As employees move from one team to another, a common framework and language exists to help the new employee assimilate faster.

Leaders will often use a team building facilitator to help them get started, until they can use the process on their own. It's important to select someone with experience and expertise - I'd recommend interviewing several and talking to references.

Here are 8 commonly used team development models, including links to learn more about each one. As an added bonus, I've also thrown in my own simple model.

1. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
Developed by Patrick Lencioni, owner of The Table Group. The five dysfunctions are:
Absence of Trust, Fear of Conflict, Lack of Commitment, Avoidance of Accountability, and Inattention to Results.
I've used this model and would recommend it. It's fairly simple to understand and you can purchase a Field Guide with activities to support each stage of the model.

2. Tuckman’s Model
Many team development models use some variation of Bruce Tuckman’s classic 4 stages of team development: forming, storming, norming, and performing.
It's helpful to be able to anticipate the typical stages any team will go though and understand how to move them through each stage.

3. Glen Parker’s Model 
Based on his book, Team Players and Teamwork. I like the team survey that accompanies this one.

4. Drexler Sibbit model
Developed by Allan Drexler and David Sibbet (see picture). One of my favorites, and I've used it a lot.  The big disadvantage of this one is it requires certification, as it's mainly for OD consultants.

5. Katzenbach & Smith’s model

Based on the book “The Wisdom of Teams”. I've read the book - it's very good - and have used parts of the model.

I'm not as familiar with the next three models, but they are classics and came up a lot when researching this post:

6. Lafasto and Larson model
Based on the book “When Teams Work Best”.

7. Hackman model
Based on the book “Leading Teams”.

8. GRPI model
Stands for: Goals, Roles, Processes, and Interpersonal relationships.
Based on the book “Task Oriented Team Development”.

The Great Leadership model:
Quite honestly, I often wonder if we "professionals" make team development overly complicated for leaders. Many of the team assessments I've used seem to be self-serving, designed to sell team development products, services, and books.
Would a better approach be for a team to simply ask themselves to define what kind of a team they would like to be? Just define their own team behaviors and goals, then rate themselves and choose what they want to work on to improve? I’ve tried this, and it seems to create a lot buy-in and positive energy and gets to the point a lot faster. Then, when finished, go out for beers and pizza. (-:

These are the models I’m most familiar with, but I’m sure there are many more. What's your favorite approach to team development? Is there a team development model you like that’s not on this list?


Mary Jo Asmus said...

Hi Dan,

Thanks, once again, for sharing your wisdom. You've provided a valuable service to your readers in compiling this list. I am in favor of the Great Leadership model - a vote for simplicity (and beer and pizza). Perhaps you could write it up and sell tons of facilitator's guides and workbooks (and then retire?).

I used Lencioni's work - with a highly dysfunctional team - recently. It was quite effective, and I will use it again. This is also a great example of simplicity that works, and your steering the readers to the fieldbook is spot on. I made the mistake of buying the entire package - and then saw the field guide at the bookstore after spending a couple of hundred bucks on the other stuff. Its all you need, since Lencioni's material is so simple.

Miki said...

Hi Dan, good grief, I'm worried about your safety. Offering simple solutions to anything that forms the basis of a consulting model is tantamount to treason. Hasn't anyone told you that you are supposed to present complex, convoluted solutions to keep the revenue flowing?

No? Good! Three cheers for treason, I'm with you and any other simplifiers 100%

Dan McCarthy said...

Mary Jo -
How about if we market it together... the McCarthy & Asmus "beer and pizza" model?

Miki -
Yikes, consulting treason?! My problem is I'm a leader first, then a consultant. If it smells like b.s. to me, I have a hard time selling it to others.
But these are all pretty good models, as long as they are in the hands of a good facilitator or leader. Thanks for the laugh.

John Spence said...

As someone who wrote a book called “Awesomely Simple” I am all for reducing complexity.

Dan, I think your model is great – have studied the others deeply. For the fun of it let me throw in the one I teach: D-M-C-C-M-D

Direction: shared, clear, vivid, inspiring.

Measurable Goals: clear, specific, quantifiable, observable… binary.

Competence: you want the most competent people you can get on your team – true professionals.

Communication: open, honest, robust and transparent.

Mutually Accountable: hold each other accountable to the clear and specific standards of excellence -- this is why the measurable goals are so important.

Discipline: to do this every day and build it into the culture.

I have run hundreds of “High-Performance Teams” workshops that the above list is a good foundation, in my opinion, of what you need to build a truly world-class team.

Hope this adds to the discussion – John Spence

Dan McCarthy said...

John -
I really like your model, thanks. Although, it could really use a better acronym. (-:.

Jim Bahr said...

Agreed, the beer & pizza model has its merits! Take it one step further and formalize that into a structured cooking team building exercise and you've got a fully deductible event!

Jennifer V. Miller said...


The only challenge with the “just ask them” approach is what happens if you ask them and all you get is blank stares? I find that people enjoy having a framework to respond to, if for no other reason than to get the creative juices flowing. You’ve outline some really great models—even a few new ones to me. (Sigh, I must be getting jaded.)

To toss another one into the mix, I sometimes use Inscape Publishing’s Team Dimensions tool, which looks at the roles that people like to play in their team. It’s especially helpful for project team work, because the conceptual model is based on how an idea flows from concept to execution.

Thanks for this incredible round-up of models. It’s like being a kid in an OD candy store! 

Anonymous said...

I couldn't open the link on the Drexler Sibbit model... it just took me to a seach page that showed the same picture you displayed over and over. I would love to get more information on this model.

Pamela Norr said...

Ok, that was weird. Yesterday I drafted up my agenda for my next all staff meeting and was planning some team development stuff (burning bowl, new year goals, etc) but started the whole thing out "what kind of team do we want to be". Your blog came at JUST the right time because I was going to start investigating models and fall prey to the overthink. Now instead I just have to find the pizza menu. Thanks Dan. As always, I look forward to your posts. Common sense and excellent advice. Happy New Year!

Dan McCarthy said...

Jim –
I participated in a cooking – team building event. It was fun – although we really didn’t get at any serious team issues. Your example, and my beer & pizza example, point out the difference between team building and team development. Team building for fun – team development to get at the heavy stuff. I like to combine the two.

Jennifer –
Thanks for taking the other side of this discussion. You’re right, sometimes a team needs a model – or a roadmap – along with some training to get them started. I certainly didn’t mean to imply my simple “do-it-yourself” model was better – it’s just an alternative.
Thanks for the additional resource. I agree, it’s a candy store of goodies for us OD junkies, and I enjoyed putting it together.

Anon –
Sorry about the bum link – I just fixed it to link back to the model. I wish I could point you to the original source like I did with the others, but I couldn’t find it. It looks like quite a few OD consultants use it, and that’s where I found the picture. The picture itself provides an excellent overview, but again, it’s not a “self-teach” model. You might want to try contacting one of the consultants that use it (I linked to McNeil Consulting).

Pamela –
I appreciate the compliment, but again, please don’t scrap your original plan too soon. Take a look at the models, and see if one meets your needs. You can always try the “what do we want to be approach” first, then as Jennifer mentioned, if you get blank stares, fall back to a model to help them get started.
Happy New Year to you too!

Jason Seiden said...

I like Tuckman's model... if you look at Lencioni & Drexler carefully, you can see that they're both derivatives of T's work...

Parking Tuckman's wisdom in the back of your brain and then using the McCarthy's beer-&-pizza model typically yields solid results...

As always, great post.

Unknown said...

A leader does not need to be taught how to lead. It is innate.

Dan McCarthy said...

Brian -
While some of makes a great leader is "innate" (energy, some smarts), the rest is ALL learned. This is not just an opinion - it's beyond a doubt fact.

Education Tay said...

I have a list of undergraduate and graduate degrees in business and management, although does not match up to the 14 years commercial experience I have. Team development goes much further than a team bonding exercise finding out about yourself over one or two days. The models mentions may work with certain group at a certain time and in a certain working environment.

Team development goes further than one model as a development progress, although academic models go someway to help develop team development.