Behavioral Models

Brief Description

While this is not a KS method, sometimes having a base theoretical understanding of some behavioral models can help when implementing knowledge sharing. This information is courtesy of the FAO IMARK Module on Knowledge Sharing from a segment created by Jim Benson.

The Group Development Behavioral Models

Kurt Lewin's Individual Change Process

Kurt Lewin's model of Group Development is regarded as the first attempt to systematically categorize the stages of group development (what he called Group Dynamics). His work describes both personal and group development in three stages:

Stage 1 Unfreezing: The group recognizes their existing group dynamics, discusses them, works through defence mechanisms. The group begins the process of change.
Stage 2 Change: Change happens. Though this stage can experience tremendous confusion and strife. Change is not easy, existing ways of living and working are undergoing change, but there is little clarity about the nature of the change.

Stage 3 Freezing: The end results of the change that is taking place begin to take form. The group achieves clarity. The group and those who make up the group become comfortable with the change. The new ways are accepted and normal.

Tuckman's Stages model

Bruce Tuckman's model is the most recognized. Its stages of Forming , Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning have been well documented and followed for decades. One element that makes Tuckman's model so powerful is the last: adjourning, which recognized that group projects often do come to an end. Each stage has various indicators that reveal which stage the group is in.

Forming: The new group members are learning about each other and the task at hand. There is little clarity into roles or responsibilities. Indicators of this stage suggest confusion and include: lack of commitment, skepticism, political fighting, and apathy.

Storming: The group begins work and struggles to find clarity in the organization and structure of the group. These struggles are emotional and often hurtful. Team members vie for position and status. Indicators of this stage suggest volatility and include: anger, resentment, fighting, information hoarding, sabotage and withdrawl. Storming is inherently unsustainable. Groups who remain in this mode usually fail.

Norming: The group stabilizes by recognizing goals, giving them clarity, and establishing how things will be carried out. Indicators of this stage include: tracking performance, retrospectives, innovation, collaboration, and caring.

Performing: Groups implement their solutions in the norming process and move forward. Indicators for this stage include: higher morale, sense of accomplishment, group identification and pride in work.

Adjourning: The project ends, the group disbands. The group feels the pride of a job well done, but also mourns the loss of a good team. Indicators for this stage are: pride, loss, and the end of the project.

Tubbs' Systems Model

Like other Group Development models, Stewart Tubbs "systems" approach views group development through a series of stages. Tubbs' four stages are:

Orientation: The group forms, identifies the problem to be solved, and begin to assess how to solve it.

Conflict: Conflict, in this case, does not have to be fighting. In the conflict stage, group members generate, debate and evaluate ideas. Healthy conflict is in the form of vigorous debate and helps avoid groupthink or complacency.

Consensus: In the consensus stage, group members compromise, agree on alternatives, and implement. .

Closure: In this stage, the project is over, and the final product is completed.

Fisher's Decision Emergence Model

Fisher's model is more communication based. He examined the content of group members interactions (if they agreed, were combative, etc.). This model watches who acts and who responds to those actions. His phases are orientation, conflict, emergence, and reinforcement.

Orientation: Groups are unfamiliar and communication is awkward. At this point, groups should pay attention to how people are relating and want to be related to.
Conflict: Like other models, this is the point at which healthy debate takes place.
Emergence: Social structure becomes set, group members become comfortable with each other and the solutions selected by the group. Discussion reflects people coming together.
Reinforcement: Group members fully identify with and support the group in most communication.

Poole's multiple-sequences model

Marshall Scott Poole's model places decision-making at the center of group dynamics. His decision-making model is based on several variables: task structure, group composition and conflict management. Poole then provides three activity tracks: test, relation and topic, each noting a different state of group development or interaction. Unlike other models, these tracks may occur at any time during the group's operation. Understanding these communication styles can help break from the rigid definitions of other models and even help interpret them.Task track: This track is focused on group goal and process setting. Like other Group Development methodologies, this is the track where groups discover what they are doing and how they are doing it.
Relation track: This track is focused specifically on interpersonal relationships. Groups may, at any time, stop work and just talk to each other as friends, share information about themselves, or go out for dinner. These are important times for any group.

Topic track: This track is focused on issues or concerns the group may encounter. These can be collaborative or combative conversations.

Breakpoints: Breakpoints are the points where groups switch between tracks. Conversation shifts from one type to another.

Breakpoints occur when a group switches from one track to another.

McGrath's Time, Interaction, and Performance (TIP) theory

McGrath, like Poole, acknowledges that all groups are not created equal. He notes that his four modes are potential but not required forms of activity. Groups may find themselves skipping certain steps and revisiting others. Missing some steps does not hinder success.
Mode I: Inception Begining of a project and selection of project goals (goal choice)

Mode II: Technical Problem Solving Identification and solution of specific technical issues (means choice)

Mode III: Conflict Resolution Identification of and resolution of political issues (policy choice)

Mode IV: Execution Completion of the project (goal attainment)


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