Despite this, without realizing, we use storytelling methods in business all the time. By telling stories, we’re able to create moment and motion that moves our company from the starting position, through the milestones and to the ending. With this movement, our companies leave tangible markers in their wake, as memoirs of their progression.
We can most evidently see the art and science of storytelling when we delve into the phases of motion and development within our companies. When we consider Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development, we can see the breadcrumbs of storytelling keeping this momentum alive.
Through stories, we can manifest tangible milestones and create the kinesis that projects us toward the final vision. Storytelling enables us to monitor progress in an objective and measurable manner, while the subjective narrative takes the lead to fluidity manoeuvre our companies forward — inciting emotion, driving change, rewarding loyalty, and taking accountability.
So, About Tuckman’s Stages…
Tuckman’s Stage of Group Development model tackles the concept of group dynamics and leadership shifts within a cohort as it forms and develops.
He coined the memorable ditty: ‘Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing’. It is a simple yet elegant way to remember how groups and leaders move through development, explaining decision-making and behavioural patterns in relation to chronology.
In short, as groups start out, they’re forming. Forming is exciting. Forming is full of intention. Forming is full of action. Forming is full of hope and trust and love and inspiration and motivation. It tends to happen quickly and swiftly, honestly and authentically, brazenly and bravely. You’ll see people organically fall into the roles within which they most naturally working, usually birthing a charismatic, dogmatic, and influential leader.
Storming is when the clash comes. Forming is quick and organic, with no time for rules and regulations. Forming uses old relationships to try and make new ones, often failing and causing arguments. Forming is passionate, storming is passionate. Many people leave, many people stay but everything changes. Often old leaders are joined by teams of new people and more democracy ensues, or old leaders are turfed out as a new generation steps in to remedy the situation.
Norming is when the governance period begins to establish itself and the arguments die down. People fall into their roles, some new, some as they have always been. The work starts to get done and slow, steady progress begins to see rewards.
Performing is when the cogs are turning, the vision is in full bloom and the team are cooperating. Enjoying themselves, your team show flair in their work and love for their colleagues, while new ideas bounce around, profits go up, and resources feel abundant.
When we see this story laid out, we can often all relate to this. This is how our companies are blossoming. In a simple 4-step plan, we see some of our hurdles, and are able to look at the timeline of our companies and see this ebb and flow occur.
Like decorated knight cutting through a thorny forest and slaying a dragon to rescue the princess, this model showcases the usual steps we take (even if often we jump back and forth between before reaching the end).
For those of us sitting in a trench between these stages or finding ourselves drying out of resources, it’s time to get that story moving.
The What’s Next — Adjourning and Transforming
Tuckman did give a little nod to a fifth stage – Adjourning. This is when the journey ends — the goal is reached or the team disperse. As he notes though, the phases are not completely linear and we ebb and flow back and forth through the steps.
While we may be norming at one point, a bad investment may send us back storming. While storming, new leadership may bring us back to forming again, or may boost us straight to performing.
Adjourning refers to a hiatus or an ending — a termination of the saga.
There is another way. Transforming.
Once a story has run its course, it doesn’t have to end. Some may make a movie or a play, others may write a second novel. Whichever you choose, transforming is an option that broadens your bandwidth.
For some companies, a new project, product, location, or idea may lead to a transformation period as well. This not only provides more room to apply storytelling, this leads back on to forming, creating a cyclical cycle with Tuckman’s model.
In this sense, stories have the ability to nourish businesses to form, and then blossom into performing entities that can regenerate and transform into a new, brighter future vision.
Storytelling by Stages
Each of these stages gives birth to new stories. The momentum is created by the underpinning storyline, serving as a vision and a motivation to move forward.
Here are some business stories you may recognise.
Moving an idea or an inspiration to a tangible product or service.
Explaining the idea to a new team, while training their behaviours accordingly.
Illustrating your project to a bank or to investors for a loan in a board meeting or with a portfolio.
Testing your product to a potential target audience through surveys and in focus groups.
Rationalising to your wife as to why you want to quit your job and follow your dream to create this company.
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Laying down ‘What Went Wrong’ to investors in their offices.
Receiving backlash on an aggressive marketing campaign to a competitor and serving a well-deserved comeback.
Continually receiving poor feedback from customers and having to make excuses.
Staff are unhappy with the company and spread rumours.
The media are posting unsavoury reviews about your service or product.
You and your husband fight about bills not getting paid or the excuses you make for such late nights.
Your office is too small so you fight with your business partner and make up reasons to work from home.
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Marketing product ranges to audiences who begin to respond by buying.
You receive more positive feedback and social media begins to pick up.
Your staff start to get along and come up with good ideas in meetings.
Everyone feels heard and new suggestions are reaching decision-makers.
You are able to upsize to a bigger office and post this for customers to see.
You buy your wife a nice birthday present and a ‘Sorry’ card.
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You’re seeing loyalty from your customer who are buying more frequently and in larger quantities, leaving positive reviews.
Your staff enjoy nights out together socially and tell tales about it at work.
You showcase improved reports to investors who relay this upward.
Your marketing campaigns are working and products are flying off the shelves.
Social media names and faces are reviewing products and telling stories about their experiences.
Sales are booming and new staff are needed to cover the extra cost, so training manuals now lay out the history and the requirements.
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Fresh staff and inspired employees lead to new ideas, which creates new products.
New products need new marketing campaigns, so staffing increases, new roles forms and promotions are offered as individuals transform.
New markets open new adventures and you’re traveling more frequently, perhaps buying property abroad.
As products ranges shift, new target audiences open up, and you diversify, creating a more resilient company.
If you want to open those wings as a beautiful butterfly, you better speak to us about building a secure chrysalis. Get from there to the next phase by clicking below and talking to us about transformation today.