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Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, Adjourning and Transforming

Posted by on January 20, 2010

That’s quite a mouthful I know.  This concept was recently introduced to me by Gil Yehuda via email and was originally developed by Bruce Tuckman (in the 1960’s) who believed that these were all necessary phases for teams to go through in order for them to grow and deliver results (and to overcome challenges, tackle problems, find solutions, and to plan work).  Looking back on my experiences working with teams and running Chess Media Group with Connie, I definitely find the phases to hold true.  These teams phases can be applied across departments and organizations and towards initiatives such as Enterprise 2.0.  This is how the phases break down:


This is the initial stage of putting the team together where individuals learn about each other and the team requirements as well as the challenges, expectations, and the organizational structure of the team.  This is also the information gathering and exploratory stage.  If you have ever been put into a team or have been asked to form one then you are most definitely familiar with this phase and should be able to relate to it.


This is probably the more tumultuous phase during which the members of the team all have their own ideas and directions that they want to go in.  Oftentimes team members debate, critique, and confront each other to decide on the best course of action.  I’m sure my business partner can attest to the fact that we have definitely gone through our storming phase (or a few of them!).  Bruce explains that this phase can be a bit uncomfortable and/or unpleasant but it’s still quite necessarily for the growth and development of the team.  Usually companies go through serious problems when they cannot leave this phase thus making the entire relationship very tense and difficult for everyone.


This is the phase where the team really starts to function and work together as a team.  Individuals start to understand each others work habits and ethic and everything seems much more natural.  Responsibility and roles are much more clearly defined, expectations are set, and collaboration is in full swing.  Most people are familiar with this and oftentimes we refer to this as being in the “zone.”


According to Bruce not all teams will reach this phase but those that too are the high-performing teams which have grown to become both knowledgeable and efficient at what they do.  Supervision goes down as individuals are now capable of making appropriate decisions.  This is essentially where your team really starts shining and delivering superior results.

Adjourning and Transforming

These are two additional phases that Bruce later added to his team development.  Adjourning refers to the team breaking up after the task has been completed.  Transforming involves the team not breaking up but instead moving onto other tasks and objectives (from what I understand).

I found these stages of team development quite relevant.  As Bruce mentions, these stages can be cyclical once changes occur, such as the introduction of a new team member or the change of some other team variable that can modify how the team works.  Some of you may be familiar with this model of group development but for those that aren’t I highly recommend that you take these phases into consideration and explore them within your current organizations.  I especially see these phases applicable towards Enterprise 2.0 initiatives where many companies are introducing new teams and strategies to help make the initiatives worthwhile.

Questions, thoughts, ideas?  What do you think about these stages and where are you within your team or organization?

  • It's great to see this often contentious and difficult process laid-out. It's easy to get discouraged when you're in the midst of the storming phase. Knowing that the difficult work you do there can result in a much better perform stage should hearten teams great and small.

    • Hey Matt,

      Thanks for that, it's an interesting process that was laid out. Definitely going to start paying more attention to it and seeing how it applies to myself and to clients.

  • Thanks for the great article. You have made some very interesting points and detailed information about social media strategy.

  • Hey Matt,

    Thanks for that, it's an interesting process that was laid out. Definitely going to start paying more attention to it and seeing how it applies to myself and to clients.

  • hey that a great article regrading social media & i think its will be very beneficial for people who want to adopt social media for promoting their brand,

  • I would love to hear more about the Adjourning phase. I think that’s the hardest one to go through, and it is also the one that nobody seems to talk about. How does management keep a team going when they know the end is near?

  • Zubair I. Butt

    After getting information about storming, this is most critical part for a Group development. During storming you have to finalize and decide the goal how to achieve and what will be a best way to achieve. 

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