Project Management

Challenging Tuckman's Model of Group Development

PMI Romania Chapter

Narciss Popescu, PMP, is managing director of PM ACCESS in Bucharest, Romania. His expertise in team development and group dynamics is based on almost 15 years of management and project management experience within IT, software development, and telecom operations and projects in multicultural environments. He holds a professional diploma in management from The Open University UK, and a master’s degree in computer science from the University Military Technical Academy RO.

This year marks the 51st anniversary of the first publication of the famous Tuckman’s model in Psychological Bulletin. Since then, it has become one of the most referred to models in the field of group development. Acclaimed, but also criticized, sometimes treated superficially and other times exhaustively, it is a benchmark and a starting point for any research in this field. Below, apart from revealing certain aspects that are less known about this model, I accept the challenge launched by Tuckman 51 years ago and continue his research for the purpose of validating, refining, or proposing changes to the model.

Why Tuckman’s Model is Important for Project Managers
Forming an effective team is crucial for project success, but it is not an easy job. Members often go through different stages characterized by recognizable, interpersonal behavior, and have recognizable behavior toward the task as they change from being a new group with different goals to a united group with common goals. Tuckman's model describes these stages and the behavior patterns. Identifying and understanding these stages enables project managers to make better choices in selecting the appropriate tools and techniques that make the new team become more effective quickly.

What Did Tuckman Intend to Reveal with This Model?
Underlying Setup of Tuckman’s Analysis
The model…

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