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Groupthink Progress in Team Development: What stage does it occur in?

Updated on June 3, 2009

Groupthink Progress in Team Development. What stage does it occur in?

“The Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing model of team development was first proposed by Bruce Tuckman in 1965 (pp. 384-389).” As per Tuckman, the stage of team development where group think is most likely to occur is in the Norming stage. "Groupthink is a type of thought exhibited by group members who try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas. During Groupthink, members of the group avoid promoting viewpoints outside the comfort zone of consensus thinking" (2007).

Rather than explaining my opinion on why it would occur in the norming stage, I’ll try to explain why it may not occur in other specific stages of the team development model. I’ll use an example that I’ve experienced.

When I first entered the military, I entered recruit training (Boot Camp) for the United States Navy. The initial processing was a life-changing event. Arrival into this whole new workplace was difficult; especially when I didn’t know anybody at all. The objective of the first couple of weeks in Boot Camp was the “forming” of a divisional Team. Once the preliminary stage of member introduction began, we were able to identify each member trait and motivational goal of the team; thus providing the beginning of a healthy team organization. By understanding each team member’s traits and motivational goal we were able to establish our Leadership Committee, responsibilities, and overall goal through “Storming.”

Within both of these early stages, “promoting a viewpoint” remained out of the comfort zone because each member remained independent from the team. Although “I” does not exist in a team, our mentalities still referenced some form of personal pride and selfishness. After several weeks and as everyday responsibilities led to the planning and organization of our overall team goal, which was to learn, work, and live as a reliable team, we began to build a sense of camaraderie amid each team member.

Within this stage of “Norming” our team worked closer together, much like a family of brothers. All feelings and emotions toward each member grew stronger each day as we worked together. The sharing of personal information, i.e. families, previous occupations, and purpose for joining the US Navy were the most spoken of topics. We learned about each other’s personal lives, creating an alliance, and understood the different strengths and weaknesses of others. Relying on each others’ strengths and weaknesses and because of our short training period, we disregarded change, agreed with each other, and never demonstrated “groupthink.” We use to go by a saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

So therefore, to avoid new challenges as a team, we never anticipated on changing our specific roles and ideas. If we were to display groupthink within the norming stage, we would counteract it by confronting the team as a whole and by using fairness, evaluations, and/or a voting process. We may also require outside sources of the team to provide neutral critiques and ideas.

Tuckman, B. (1965). Developmental sequence in small groups. Psychological bulletin, 63, 384-399.


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    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 8 years ago from South Africa

      Interesting Hub - thanks for sharing your ideas on this.

      Love and peace