It took me too long to realize that the paper I just read was directly relevant to me. It was about teams. I was on a team. Why didn’t I get that?

Last month I read and wrote about The Development Sequence of Small Groups, by Bruce Tuckman, who discovered the classic Forming → Storming → Norming → Performing sequence.

After I read it, and in great arrogance, I thought, “Well now that I know about the perils of storming, I’ll be sure to look out for it and guide the team I lead through it.” What I didn’t consider is the storm that was going to hit me the hardest wasn’t going to be the team I was leading, but the informal team between me and my peers.

In fact, I was already in the middle of it.

Even though we’re not strictly on a “team,” my peers and I are working together on a single project from different angles. I’m the technical team lead, and alongside me is a couple UX developers, a business analyst, a project manager, and a distant and sporadically-available product owner. (Not the healthiest setup, I know.) That’s where the storming occurred. That’s why I’ve been having so much trouble lately. All the jockying and chaos and fragile agreements.

I’m working in a company without a strong set of processes to guide us, or any, really, and we are learning how to work together while we’re building the product. That’s where my storm came from.

I realized this yesterday.

Today, a large grooming meeting involving three directors spun out of control. At least that’s what it looked like from the outside. From my point of view, it was a lot of questions and some slow agreements. Part of the Tuckman’s storm is ironing out the edges of expectations, and I see that more clearly now. It was very calm to know what was really happening underneath the jockying.

Knowledge is peace.