Is Tuckman's Team Formation Model Still Valid, Useful or Outdated?

Stages of Team Development
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Philippe Guenet
Coach, United Kingdom

Is Tuckman's Team Formation Model Still Valid, Useful or Outdated?

🔥NEW Like many people, I was introduced to the Tuckman's model a long time ago, and through my years in consultancies, I formed and normed teams on projects. Projects is the business of consultancies. Tuckman felt like gospel, we never really questioned it.
Then it all went more Agile / Flow and valuing persisting teams. This debunked the idea of projects. Still Tuckman helped rationalising this choice. Once you have a performing team, you hang on to it by persisting it.
Then I qualified as a Systemic / Team Coach and learnt much more about Dynamics of Human Systems. One of the characteristics of human systems is to be in a permanent state of emergence. The nature of innovation is to work with that Emergence. This also debunks Tuckman's idea that teams are in a stable state of performance.
Adding Complexity and Cynefin to I brings much even more context into the mix. The change of context can throw the team off - for example the Cliff of Complacency.

Most importantly, working with complexity does not necessarily seeks stability of performance. In complexity, the storming can be useful to figure new possibilities and exploiting the emergent nature of diversity of a team.
In change, it is sometimes also needed to put a team off-balance so change can happen. We like to think that people change because it makes rational sense, but change is much more of an emotional journey (or inertia) than many would dare to admit. Breaking the inertia sometimes requires a useful storming so change can happen.

In conclusion, the linear view of Tuckman was (is) useful in a slower world where businesses are (were) mainly focusing on creating stability.
In modern leadership, which we could define as working with complex / changing situations, teams can be in any mix of the 4 stages and the leadership should work with the whole range all the time because it can help change and innovation. The concepts are still relevant, but in my opinion the linear view of the model feels like it is starting to be outdated.
⇨ What are your thoughts?


Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

More Forming, Norming, Storming Needed

Thanks Philippe for sharing this question with us. In my view Tuckman's 4 (5) stages of team develo... Sign up

Partner, Switzerland

Fundamental Needs of Teams Expressed Through Team Dynamics...

And what if we looked at Tuckman's stages from a different angle? That of the needs of teams. - Whe... Sign up


Tuckman's Model is not Outdated

In my own opinion, the model is not outdated but it should be used in line with the reality of today... Sign up


Tuckman's Model - Past It's Sell by Date

Whilst I understand the thinking behind Tuckman, I think Philippe is right to suggest that it is bec... Sign up

Business Consultant, United States

Tuckman is More Important than Ever

This is a great question and responses. I have been researching and writing about how Tuckman's mode... Sign up

Paramathmuni srinivas Kumar

More Points Should be Considered

While forming, storming, norming, performing, adjourning are still required I think it can be augmen... Sign up

Philippe Guenet
Coach, United Kingdom

Should a Team Disband/Adjourn? ORSC

Thank you for the comments - I like the idea of the needs of the team. It will vary though the cours... Sign up

Bryan Forsyth, PhD
Professor, United States

Tuckman's Model is Still Valid

@Jaap de Jonge: I agree that Tuckman's model (to include adjourning) is still valid, and my belief i... Sign up

Maurice Hogarth
Consultant, United Kingdom

The Context of Tuckman's Model Has Changed

I would agree that the model still provides a valid process for the building and developing of team ... Sign up


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