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The Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0022 | October 9, 2001
6,300 Subscribers

Group Awareness and Management (GAME) Skill

See Your Group's Potential
Understand team evolution and hold a larger vision for your group.

The Point?

Groups tend to evolve through a fairly predictable series of stages over time. One model commonly used in business and group process calls these stages: Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing. I also particularly like author Scott Peck's community building model which includes: Pseudo- Community, Chaos, Emptiness, and True Community. 

Most groups that come together hang out in the Forming or Pseudo- Community stage, particularly if they lack a good facilitator. In this stage, people spend lots of energy trying to be "nice" and polite with one another. In other words, dishonest with each other. In this stage, the energy of each individual is more focused on how they appear to others than what the group might accomplish.

The Storming or Chaos stage is reached if a group hangs together long enough to begin shedding it's facade. People begin to express their truth, often in very ineffective ways, i.e. through blaming, shouting, pouting, withdrawing, etc. When groups reach this stage, they often retreat back into the Pseudo- Community stage for comfort. After all, our culture has taught us to avoid conflict and fighting, right? Now let's be good boys and girls and quit fighting, OK? The problem with this approach is that it keeps us fixated in mediocrity.

If the group should somehow stay the course and find their way through the Chaos or Storming stage, they may reach the stage of Norming or Emptiness. In this stage, members begin to identify their individual strengths and weaknesses and seek roles that best fit their abilities and desires. The group begins to use problem-solving strategies to solve previously encountered personal and professional difficulties.

Finally, as a group perseveres, they reach the stage or Performing or of True Community where fantastic accomplishments can be made by a group whose individuals are now perfectly aligned on the intent to work together.

Some groups may never transcend all of these stages and may find themselves stuck in one, or oscillating between two stages. It's also perfectly normal for groups to move in and out of several of these stages over time. 

Each group is different and only their commitment to their own growth and to each other, coupled with the mastery of the facilitator, will determine how far they come together. Ultimately, it's useful to know that a higher vision for any group is possible and the more members that hold and act on this vision, the more likely it will be attained.


How many groups have you been in where members resist sharing what's standing between them? There may be something one member does that continues to push a button of yours, thus distracting you from fully engaging your energies behind the group. There may be tensions below the surface between you and other members that are "ignored" and never addressed. Or there may be processes the group uses that you find to be limiting, frustrating, or just plain ineffective.

How often have you sensed any of these things and done nothing? Why have you done nothing? Could it be that you just didn't want to "rock the proverbial boat?" Or maybe you just didn't know how to say it in a nice way. Or maybe you have spoken out in the past and people got pissed at you so you just keep quiet now.

If any of this sounds familiar it's because that's where most groups hang out, in the space between Pseudo-Community (not rocking the boat) and Chaos (telling the truth). This is where you as a facilitator can help. You can help group members share their truth in a supportive fashion, knowing that if this truth stirs emotions, that it's OK, and that by processing these emotions or disagreements, the group has the potential to move past chaos to a far more powerful level of functioning.


Iím interested in hearing your perspectives on this topic and how this information might help you in your efforts to facilitate groups as either a leader or as a participant. Please email me your thoughts, stories, and experiences on this issue.

Skill Related Resource
The Different Drum
, by M. Scott Peck
In his ground-breaking bestseller, The Road Less Traveled, Peck took readers on a personal journey of psychological and spiritual development. In his new national bestseller, The Different Drum, he takes the next step--to the larger experience of living and working in community. 

Community isn't what we think it is. Peck does an impeccable job of explaining true community and why it is so elusive in our society. Though he mentions over and over that he is an idealist, Peck presents some very intelligent arguments as to why a community approach just makes sense. He isn't naive either. He says the road to community can be painful and extremely hard. 

cartoon image of a talking man.

Reader Survey 
How Do Facilitators Market Their Services?

We received very few responses to the question around how facilitators market their services. This must be a challenging area for many! However, Carole Kaucic responded with the following excellent suggestion that you might find useful. Thank you Carole for your contribution!

Volunteer to facilitate a not-for-profit group. You'll be donating your services, and someone there may very well need a facilitator at his/her work site, and the organization involved is willing/able to pay for the services of a "tried" facilitator. It worked for me!

This week, we're asking you this: What single key theme or issue do you see repeated in the groups you work with that most impedes the group making progress?

Please send us your input and we'll make all of your ideas and experiences available to everyone who contributes.

Please email your responses to me at ../contact.php. Thanks for your help in making the site the best facilitation resource site on the web!

If you know someone who might benefit and enjoy this newsletter, please send this link to a friend.

picture of Steve Davis, editor of the Master Facilitator Journal.

About the Author: 
Steve Davis is a Business and Life Coach facilitating others to stretch beyond their full potential in their business and personal lives. Please email your stories, comments, suggestions, and ideas. I'd love to hear from you. If you find this newsletter helpful, please forward it to your friends. Thanks for reading! 

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Introduction to the Facilitation and Self Facilitation Skills.

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6. Be Ignorant.
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11. Build the Container.
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14. Evolve Your Team.
15. Honor the Process.
16. Facilitate Full Participation

Organizing and Presenting yourself confidently, professionally, and authentically. 

17. Prepare for Success.
18. Get Real.
19. Make Experiences, Not Speeches
20. Watch the Body Talk.
21. Be your message

Intervening to shift group energy

22. Tame the Tormentors.
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27. Embrace Facilitation as a Master's Path

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Thank you for reading this issue of the Master Facilitator Journal.  Look for your next issue on October 16, 2001. 


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