Quality Blog

Shifting the Paradigm: Lean Six Sigma Project: Team Orming Model

January 9, 2013


The following is an excerpt from the book Integrated Enterprise Excellence Volume III - Improvement Project Execution: A Management and Black Belt Guide for Going Beyond Lean Six Sigma and the Balanced Scorecard, Citius Publishing, 2008 

Previous blogs described a business management system and how projects can be selected that benefits the enterprise as a whole. This blog is a second in a series which steps through various aspects of the Lean Six Sigma Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control (DMAIC) roadmap for process improvement.

It is commonly agreed that teams go through stages to become a highly effective team. In addition, it is generally agreed that teams can improve the quality of their interactions when each member of the team is aware of these stages. Tuckman (1965) described the four stages of team development as forming, storming, norming, and performing. These team stages are often collectively referenced as the orming model. Successful teams are those who transition back and forth between these stages when circumstances change. Adjourning and recognition can be considered as the final stages of the team stages.

In the forming stage, the team leader needs to provide structure for the team, clarifying expectations about the initiation of team processes. The work that needs to be accomplished is:  team member introduction, team resource assessment, and objective definition. Issues that need to be overcome are the team leader’s taking on most of the work, team members not organized around a common objective, and team not taking advantage of all the team resources. The status of the team execution process at this stage is a wait and see attitude, where the team process is usually noticed but avoided. 

In the storming stage, the team leader coaches the team in maintaining focus on the goals and expectations, managing the team process and conflict resolution, generating ideas, and explaining decisions. The work that needs to be accomplished is: identifying team member expectations, discussing differences, and conflict management. Issues that surface are team members feeling unsatisfied and/or overburdened, and lack of contribution. The status of the team execution process at this stage is the formation of cliques because the general perception is that the effort does not require teamwork.

In the norming stage, the team leader primarily acts as a facilitator who provides encouragement, helps with consensus building, and gives feedback. Attention needs to be given to resolving differences through establishing ground rules, developing trust, and discussing directly how better to work together.  Issues that arise are ongoing disagreements between team members and team members’ working at cross-purposes. The status of the team execution process at this stage is general support for leadership, with the sharing of leadership among the team.

In the performing stage, the team leader facilitates the team process, where there is a delegation of tasks and objectives. Attention needs to be given to objective achievement, team member satisfaction, and collaboration.  Issues that surface are unfinished work and not celebrating success. The status of the team execution process at this stage is that members are not dependent on the designated leaders, where everyone shares the responsibility for initiating and discussing team process issues.

To illustrate this concept, consider each of the following resulting orming model behaviors when a team member misses a meeting. 

·         Send replacement – may move team down to forming

·         Leader represent missing member – a norming or storming phase behavior

·         Other members share responsibility – performing phase behavior




Tuckman, B. W. (1965), Developmental Sequence in Small Groups, Psychological Bulletin, 63(6): 384-399




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