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by Chris van der Leer on May 4th, 2017

The various stages of group development can be explained by means of working example, as below:

Forming Stage

​During the Forming stage individuals are introduced to the other group participants and learn about the tasks they will need to perform. It is essential to ensure the team members feel welcomed at this stage because these first impression set the scene for what is to follow on.
 
In the project team the group was introduced informally doing a team-building exercise which was designed around the group objectives. This allowed individuals to meet their co-workers in an environment that was non-threatening, thus encouraging individuals to leave the comfort zone and engage in discussions with strangers.

Storming Stage

​As the project was planned out the group seemed to move into the Storming stage. The group members were starting to into conflict with one another as their opinions differed. It was also noticed that the experience levels and opinions of the individual members started to conform to suit the group and started to align to the goal of the group.
 
It is most likely that this will be the most challenging time of the development of the group; it helps to understand that competition and conflict in a group environment is normal. Balance needs to be found in order for the group to move forward.

Norming Stage

​As the personalities in the group balance themselves out it is likely that they will focus more effectively affectively on the tasks required to meet the group’s goal. When group members are willing to renegotiate their preconceived notion they are affectively moving into the Norming stage of group development.
 
Actively listening to the concerns of group members is an important characteristic of the Norming stage. Clear communication and constructive feedback enables the team to work together openly. This is particularly important when working in a project group to plan a project because the planning phase of the project requires the input from all individuals in order to plan the execution of the project.

Performing Stage

The project group had some conflict to deal with however they moved quickly into the Performing stage because the synergy between the group members was good and all members of the group were performing optimally. 

This was great because the project manager was comfortable enough with the performance of the group to start to allow the group members to work independently in order to achieve their specific objectives. The project group moved to the performing stage as the project moved to the execution phase.

Adjouring (or Closing) Stage

​As the project wound down the project group started to complete their tasks. When all tasks were complete the project manager arranged for a team dinner to celebrate the group attaining its goals.
 
This is an example of the Adjourning phase of group development as a group no longer has a purpose to collaborate however the team will have become very close and individuals may feel a sense of loss now that the group purpose is complete and the team are disbanding.
​​This article is taken from a paper written by Chris van der Leer on the development of group processes. It is licensed under CC BY 2.0. This means that you are free to license and adapt the contents of this article by giving credit to the original author.

by Chris van der Leer on April 21st, 2017

​Groupthink can be defined as ‘a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome.’ (Wikipedia, 2017).
 
With this definition in mind, my interpretation of ‘groupthink’ is where the individuals put the needs of the group first by hiding in the perceived safety of consensus while ignoring the reality of their decision.
 
This can lead to group members being hesitant to speak up because they do not want to go against the direction of the group. Furthermore this can also lead to group members starting to question their own decisions and might encourage individuals to keep their true thoughts and opinions to themselves.
 
From a group perspective the phenomenon of groupthink is likely to encourage the group to make a premature decision without doing due diligence first. This is likely to raise risks for the group because an optimal decision will not be made.
 
There are a number of ways to avoid group think, however I believe that these two are the most effective:
  1. The most effective way of discouraging groupthink in a group is to encourage all group members to contribute their thoughts and ideas to the group. In order to do this it would help if the group environment encourages group members to speak their mind without a fear of being judged.
  2. It would also help for an independent third-party to be involved with group activities; this will ensure that the group stays focused on what is actually happening in front of them. As an example, in my experience a Senior Manager is usually elected to meet with the Group to discuss progress, ensure that the project is staying on scope and to check that decisions are appropriate.
There are more creative ways to avoid this phenomenon but these are the most effective.
​This article is taken from a paper written by Chris van der Leer on the development of group processes. It is licensed under CC BY 2.0. This means that you are free to license and adapt the contents of this article by giving credit to the original author.

by Chris van der Leer on April 7th, 2017

​There are a number of factors which can influence a group’s ability to be effective or ineffective. Some of these aspects are controllable from within the group and some of them are external to the group environment, meaning that they cannot be influenced by the group.

Here are a few factors which can help to make a group endeavor more effective:  
  1. Using appropriate collaborative tools is essential to install the effectiveness of the group. Tools such as video conferencing, screen sharing and central data storage areas are important when working with a remote team, if the group attempts to collaborate via email may be less effective.
  2. Team building activities also play in important role to keep the levels of effectiveness high within the group. Having a healthy atmosphere between the group participants positively impacts on the group members and will help to maintain a high level of motivation and commitment to the group.
  3. Effective groups consist of individuals who have common levels of skill and experience. When working with my project team it definitely helps to have group members with similar skill level because it means that progress can be made much quicker. It also allows individual group members to be more comfortable in the environment and gives inexperienced group members the opportunity to learn more from their fellow team members.
  4. The equal and appropriate allocation of tasks is important in any group environment because a balance of work effort is important in order to avoid conflict and potential resentment. It is also clear that if tasks are appropriately allocated to those individuals who have the most appropriate skills, the task will be completed efficiently and effectively.
  5. Providing the individual group members personal development opportunities is a factor which will improve on the effectiveness of the group in the long run as it allows group members the opportunity to grow personally while expending work effort completing group related tasks. Additional training, mentoring or other improvement opportunities increases levels of motivation and therefore encourages group members to be more effective.
​It is worth noting however that external factors can lead the group to be ineffective. Often these external factors are not controllable by the group and sometimes are not avoidable. For instance, and organizations strategic direction can change unexpectedly, impacting on the group and its goals.
​This article is taken from a paper written by Chris van der Leer on the development of group processes. It is licensed under CC BY 2.0. This means that you are free to license and adapt the contents of this article by giving credit to the original author.

by Chris van der Leer on April 5th, 2017

A group (or team) is “two or more people who share a common definition and evaluation of themselves and behave in accordance with such a definition.” (Tuckman, 1965). 

​A group is not appropriate when any member of the team does not believe in the common goal or have the skills to contribute towards the outcome.

​The group working culture in New Zealand is quite unique, I have never working in formal, professional environment which are so laid back. However, in saying ghat, this formula seems to work very well in NZ because it encourages creativity and in some cases increases output from the group.
 
With this in mind, here are a few advantages and disadvantages of working in a group or team environment:
 
Advantages:
  1. Increased productivity and performance: Groups are great for efficiency. From a management perspective, getting a group of people to perform a task will ensure that it is done more quickly and with greater efficiency then if just one person attempted to perform the work effort.
  2. Knowledge sharing increases: By working in a group a more wide range of skills can be applied to practical activities.  Participants can share and discuss ideas to increase their understanding of a particular subject area. Sharing skills and experiences in a group setting means that more people will benefit from the knowledge.
  3. Personal development is encouraged: Group working encourages the development of skills. Interpersonal skills such as speaking and listening as well as team building skills such as leadership and motivating others can be developed in a group setting.
  4. Development of critical thinking skills: Group participation encourages the development of critical thinking skills because group members need to work together with other personalities to achieve a common outcome. This includes being humble and assertive as the situation requires.
  5. Working in a group can be more reliable: if a group member steps away it is likely that the job can still be done properly and efficiently by the remainder of the people in the group. If a person is working individually the tasks need to be performed solely by that person. This means that the goal is more likely to be achieved by a group then by an individual working on their own.
Disadvantages:
  1. Loss of creativity: A group environment requires individual’s to pool their creativity and find balance between their ideas. A true creative outcome will be difficult to achieve because all participants of the group will have input to the end result. This is also known as ‘group-think’.
  2. Team conflict: Naturally getting people to work together in a group environment can lead to friction between participants. In addition to this some individuals may not be compatible with team work and may prefer the autonomy of working on their own.
  3. Group working can be time-consuming: Getting consensus between a participants can be a time-consuming process. Decisions are likely to be made through debate and coordination, this tends to take time.
  4. Free -riding: It happens! Some individuals may work harder than others; the group environment allows the less productive group members to hide behind the output of the team. It is likely that unequal participation occurs in the group environment potentially causing resentment between other group members.
  5. Conflicting priorities: Each group member will have their own motives for being a member of the group. This means that they have a vested interest and could consider their input or output more important than that of other group members. These conflicting priorities can be difficult to resolve and can lead to some work effort being performed faster than others.
There are northers, however these are the primary points I look for.
​This article is taken from a paper written by Chris van der Leer on the development of group processes. It is licensed under CC BY 2.0. This means that you are free to license and adapt the contents of this article by giving credit to the original author.

by Chris van der Leer on April 3rd, 2017

​At the tip of the Cape Peninsula 60 km south-west of Cape Town, lies Cape Point, a nature reserve within the Table Mountain National Park; a declared Natural World Heritage Site. Encompassing 7 750 hectares of rich and varied flora and fauna; abounding with buck, baboons and Cape mountain zebra as well as over 250 species of birds, Cape Point is a nature enthusiast’s paradise.

Cape Point falls within the southern section of Table Mountain National Park. The natural vegetation of the area, fynbos, comprises the smallest but richest of the world’s six floral kingdoms.
​Visit the reserve on-line at ​capepoint.co.za; Cape Point Nature Reserve is located here:
​This video is one of a 10 part series constituting a North to South 'tour' of the Cape Peninsula. The other episodes can be found at the following URLs:

Episode 1: The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront https://youtu.be/FRIz8bu5QxE 
Episode 2: The Two Oceans Aquarium - https://youtu.be/FUwyHn0-YJM
Episode 3: Lions Head Views - https://youtu.be/Qyxd3kxn0yU
Episode 4: Groot Constantia Wine Estate - https://youtu.be/ETwEpqj-seM
Episode 5: Silvermine & Cape Point Vineyards - https://youtu.be/NARn2mVKi3Q
Episode 6: Chapmans Peak Drive - https://youtu.be/adeKmIq3uL4
Episode 7: Around Kalk Bay - https://youtu.be/8XY2OXd4cKs
Episode 8: Around Kommetjie - https://youtu.be/VYDG63qaSVk
Episode 9: Simons Town - https://youtu.be/v50K9ZqKWLY
Episode 10: Cape Point Nature Reserve  - https://youtu.be/L4vbfni2DsY

The full playlist for the 'North to South tour Of Cape Town' series is located here:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLJVwCQ4rgeFivRs-hCgzXAlplB0As2ncq

Footage captured in December 2016 on a Sony A33 and SJ4000.