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A New Team Development Model
by Rick Sidorowicz


Richard Beckard is considered by many to be one of the founders of the discipline referred to as organization development. In 1969 he published a systematic framework for the tactics that appeared to be the most effective interventions to achieve positive organization change. Beckard’s new team development model serves as a timeless guide and framework for executives and project managers.

There are a variety of situations where new teams are formed. The project-based, task-force, cross-functional work team has become the cornerstone of business in the 1990’s, and the virtual organization is quickly becoming the model for flexibility and agility in organizing quickly and effectively to ‘get the job done.’ New teams usually have a clear task focus in the early going, and there is usually a clear understanding of the short term goals. The new team members are also generally technically competent and there usually is a challenge in the project that will draw on their technical capabilities.

Experience has shown that, while the early activities are clearly focused on task and ‘work’ issues, relationship problems do develop as they do in any human system. By the time these interpersonal issues surface the team may be well along in its activities. The issues may become very difficult and very costly to work out later in the game. There is a significant payoff if a new team takes a short time at the beginning of its life to examine collaboratively how it is going to work together. Beckard’s framework provides a tool to set the stage for most effective team-work and high performance.

Take the time, at least a day, out of the work setting for a start up orientation and collaborative discussion. Take the time to get off to a collaborative head start.

Your agenda should be something like the following simple and focused seven points:

  1. Discuss and clarify the mission and purpose of the group - it’s goals, timetable and work tasks.

  2. Have a round-the-table discussion in which every member shares and expresses their concerns and hopes for this collaborative effort. Clarify roles, the relationships to the leader, how this group will adhere to or depart from tradition, the reward system, the life cycle of the team, the major milestones, and what will happen when the group task ends.

  3. The group leader presents and explains his or her plan to organize the work - the organization structure, relationships to other parts of the system, and the general groundrules for the effort. 

  4. Each member then shares and discusses their major area of responsibility, expertise, and authority. Each person describes their perception of their function and responsibilities and then checks their perception with the leader’s expectations and those of other team members. 

  5. Discuss and agree on the mechanisms for communications within the group such as meetings, memoranda, subprojects, status reporting, approval processes, etc. A team decision on the mechanics and the groundrules that involves the collective experiences and expectations of the members will provide the first building block for a truly collaborative effort. 

  6. Discuss and agree on the methods of integration of the work of the team with the larger system or organization. Keep the project clearly in view in terms of the organization context and contribution to the overall strategic effort.

  7. Plan the follow-up meeting or series of meetings.

The new team development model is from Organization Development: Strategies and Tactics, by Richard Beckard, Addison-Wesley, 1969. 


The Author


Rick Sidorowicz is the Publisher and Editor of The CEO Refresher and the Minister of Culture of High Performance Retail.

Many more articles in High Performance Teams in The CEO Refresher Archives
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Copyright 1998 by Rick Sidorowicz. All rights reserved.

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