Although there are numerous schools of thought concerning organizational development, Hall (2008) describes four distinct phases that technology teams go through they are, forming, storming, norming and performing. This structure is helpful when leading any group of educational technology leaders. Careful attention to the dynamics at work within the team will help the implementation of the technology at the administrative and classroom level.
The first stage Hall (2008) describes is the forming stage. Here the team is assembled and undergoes a kind of honeymoon in which they enjoy the excitement of all things new and shiny. Members seldom question ideas and strategies. Even the strongest members of the team appear to be complaisant in all matters.
Next the team may encounter a problematic phase. Hall (2008) calls this the storming phase. Here the comfort of the forming stage gives way to such comfort among the team members that they develop cliques and alliances which are disruptive of the group dynamic. This phase of the organization may be looked back upon as “the good old days,” but as it the team is enduring it, there is a lot of contention and division. During this phase, even the most driven members of the team produce little to nothing and fail to meet deadlines and individual goals. For the sake of the team and the larger objectives the team is charged to develop, it is best to get through the storming phase as quickly as possible and with as little time and resources wasted in the process(Wilpert, 1995).
Following the storming phase, teams will often encounter the norming phase. Here, the leader brings the team together to define for and with them the guidelines for the creation and advancement of the team’s culture. All members of the team are encouraged to participate in the creation of these norms, thereby making them a point of shared ownership. This shared ownership builds cooperation among the team members and tends to break down walls that may have grown among the team. Although this process is often formal, it may be very informal in nature. This process develops individual accountability that allows the team to work together toward common goals(Wilpert, 1995).
Once the team comes through the previous stages, the real work can be done. This last stage is called the performing stage. Individual members, being held to the standards that bind all members, work toward the common goals of the team individually and collectively. High volumes of quality work will flow from team members ahead of schedule. This is the goal of any team, but care must be taken by the team leader to keep the team from regressing into earlier stages(Wilpert, 1995).
Hall (2008) points out “blinders” which prevent the team from thinking ahead to avoid future problems. Among these are, stringent deadlines, tight budget constraints, lack of authority by the team or its members, lack of understanding by the team or its members, technical limitations, and failure of the team or its members to consider what impediments lie just ahead.
Hall, D. (2008) The technology director’s guide to leadership: the power of great questions. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education
Wilpert, B. (1995) Organizational Behavior. Annual Review of Psychology. 46. P 59