Cog's Ladder

Understanding and Accelerating Group Formation

Cog's Ladder - Understanding and Accelerating Group Formation

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Get your team pulling in the same direction.

Imagine the scenario: you've been put in charge of an important project, and its success hinges on your ability to coordinate the efforts of a large and talented group.

But, at the outset, people are only interacting tentatively, and they don't seem focused on the job. Fast forward a little, and certain personalities are beginning to clash.

Will the team ever reach a stage where everyone is working together effectively enough to deliver the project? Right now, things aren't looking too promising.

Managing a new group and its relationships can seem difficult, chaotic or doomed to end in disappointment. But there's a pattern to the chaos, and understanding that pattern can help you to get the best from your people.

What Is Cog's Ladder?

More than 30 years ago, a Procter and Gamble manager named George O. Charrier noticed how successful teamwork arose from groups progressing through five predictable and identifiable stages – the "rungs" of Cog's Ladder. He wrote about them in an influential academic paper.

Charrier's theory has stood the test of time and is still used by team leaders from sports coaches to corporate managers, and even the U.S. naval and air force academies, to aid the understanding of group development.

The greatest value in Cog's Ladder is that it helps you to understand that your new, apparently dysfunctional team won't always behave like that. It also gives you a way to anticipate and manage the changes that your team will go through as it develops.

In this article, we'll examine this progression, and explore how you can support and guide your team as it climbs Cog's Ladder.


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