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  • Cynthia Fortlage

Accepting the Early Life Cycle of a Team

This is an excerpt from some early work done in January 2020 in Santiago, Chile pre Covid Global Pandemic


Bruce Tuckman, an educational psychologist, identified the development process that most teams follow; Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing.

How does Acceptance fit into this model, or more precisely alongside it?

As I have seen it, recognizing that these phases exist when multiple people come together for a common purpose. If you accept this model that Tuckman put forward, as I have, then understanding the rest of the story will make sense regarding the early life cycle of a group or team.

As I write this, I am influenced by the world around me. I am influenced by the adventure of travelling the world with 27 strangers. After all, we are more than a team; we are a travel family (or Tramily as we called ourselves) as we are spending the next 365+ days together around the world.

So, as this group began the forming phase, we all appeared to have common traits or desires for doing such an adventure. While each person has specific nuances to their story, seeking a better understanding of ourselves is one of those common traits. Another would be a sense of adventure and pushing our own boundaries. While that may be seen as a subset of the first, I would suggest that a sense of adventure while pushing one’s boundaries is another topic. Not everyone exhibits a sense of adventure, let alone the same intensity to have a sense of adventure and push your own boundaries. This group had all forms of this, but at a higher rate than most people from my experience; after all, we all left life as we knew it for a year with strangers in foreign countries.

If that were the story, it would end here, but the phases don’t move in sequence through a group or between its members. Therefore, as some parts of the group are still forming, other parts start storming. Meaning that a gap between the initial honeymoon phase of the group and key differences begin to emerge. These gaps can cause friction, not unlike the cause of an earthquake as two different tectonic plates rub against each other, the ground shakes. The similarity of that analogue doesn’t escape me as I write this from one of the world's leading earthquake centres in Santiago, Chile.

While I accept this process as defined by Tuckman, I also must accept each perspective that comes to the group and the resulting group dynamics. Only through these interactions can understanding be gained as each unique pairing has its own dynamics. Each pairing must accept each other’s unique point of view to reach a mutual understanding.

What happens if they don’t reach a mutual understanding? What happens if the only acceptance is their point of view and not the others? It’s equivalent to group dynamics as when those tectonic plates rub together, the ground shakes. The closer to the epicentre, the more you feel the shaking and the more disrupted you get. In the same way, the further away from the epicentre, the less you are directly impacted.


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