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Agile Notes (No. 57)
Stuck in Storming? Go backward to go forward!
Hello all! Welcome new subscribers! Thanks for joining us. We continue with Collaboration Explained by Jean Tabaka. We are still on Chapter 17: Managing the Meeting Participants.
Go backwards to go forwards is something our daughter said to us when she broke her arm in gym class one day. “I was going backwards to go forwards,” she said. Those were the days…
There is an elegance to this book. I know I keep saying that but I keep having these “oooooooooohhhhh, I see” moments. This week Tabaka refers us way back to Chapter 4 and our Note about Bruce Tuckman’s “Stages of Group Development. Agile Notes (No. 44) is about Forming→Storming→Norming→Performing. Here’s a quick review:
Forming - team members are trying to figure out who does what. They are sizing each other up.
Storming - Alliances form. Who’s side are you on? Conflicts rise up. Power grabs happen. Who can you trust?
Norming - the team can get to consensus. They trust each other about how to divide up the work. Any leader starts to fade into the background.
Performing - Team culture is healthy. They can “self-navigate”. They trust each other. They hold each other mutually accountable.
If your team is stuck in the Storming stage, Tabaka directs us to go back and RE-form the team. Go back to the Forming stage and work through the Organizing tools from Chapter 9 - Meeting Purpose, Agenda, Ground Rules, Parking Lot, Decisions Board, Action Plan and Communication Plan. If the team is stuck in Storming, something didn’t take during Forming.
I would add that it couldn’t hurt to go back to Chapter 4 and look at what a fully collaborative team looks like. Really take stock and review each of the traits and identify any areas that need to be revisited with the team.
In particular I like what she suggests in #2 - any time you add someone new to the team (Dev/QA, Scrum Master, Product Owner,e tc.) you should return to Forming. It makes sense. I can think of a couple of instances where I joined a team and could have used a re-Forming session to understand how the team worked together.
In fact, I have never used a formal Forming step with any team I was on now that I really think about it. Everything Tabaka talks about, all of the tools she provides, are very process driven. They are slow and your teammates will probably balk at the slowness but make them do it anyway. Go slow in the beginning. Be deliberate. Trust the process. Use the tools. Jim Collins’ Flywheel Effect will kick in. It will make the journey to the Performing stage that much easier.
What about you? Tell us about a time you and your team were stuck in Storming. What did you do to move through it to get to Norming? Or even Performing?
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