Seventh Day of Lean Six Sigma

This is the seventh piece in a content series, “The 12 Days of Lean Six Sigma,” about applying the tools and techniques of Lean Six Sigma to the holiday season. You can read the sixth piece here.

Let’s pick a scenario that most people know all too well. You are excited about the holiday season and, one day, during a lively conversation, end up planning a big gathering at your house with the help of friends and family.

On the day of the party, you find yourself going over a checklist. Things are missing. People are late to set up decorations, and the cake’s frosting is melting.

At this point, there’s no other option but to assemble as a team and discuss the operational process of setting up before the guests arrive.

What are the Stages of Team Formation?

Professionals across leadership teams and those with Black Belt certifications are required to pay close attention to team formation. To host a successful holiday gathering, coaching your team and helping them share a common goal will come in handy. To do this, you will have to recognize the five stages of group development known as forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning.

Illustration of forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning at a holiday party.

Focusing on each of the following stages will help you assess the situation and have a high-performing team:


In this stage, everyone is polite and positive. Your party team is excited to plan and put together everything before the gathering. But, they may not be too clear about how they’re going to do it and who will be assigned to do each task.

This stage can be lengthy. There may be a discussion about who’s a better cook or creative decorator, for example. While these discussions take place, family members may meet some of your friends and get acquainted. In this stage, leader should direct the team and establish clear objectives.


During this stage, conflicts related to working styles and perspectives may arise between team members. Your mother may work slowly without missing a detail while your cousin might be faster but more careless. These differences can cause them to become frustrated and affect the party preparation process.

Two other conflicts in this stage include the overwhelming feeling of workload and team member’s discouragement with the approaches you’re using as a leader. To mitigate these conflicts, the leader should establish process, build trust and remain positive in the face of challenges.


Gradually, the team moves into a stage of norms. As a leader, you begin to help your family and friends resolve their differences, appreciate each other’s strengths and respect your leadership. The leader should step back and help team member’s take responsibility for progress. At this stage everyone gets to know each other a bit better. Stress is relieved and the team begins to:

  • Socialize together
  • Share constructive feedback
  • Develop stronger commitment to the end goal


At this stage things are looking up. Here, a team is fully mature. Your entire team’s hard work progresses without conflicts and, as a leader, you don’t have to provide too much guidance. The leader can delegate complex tasks and focus on your own areas of work. You’re proud of your team during this stage and can finally send guests a friendly message to stop by the house whenever they want. The gathering has begun.


This phase finds your team feeling grateful for how things turned out. With the help of a strong team your party was a success. At this point, your team might even gather around the kitchen island and exchange reflections about the planning process. They might thank each other for the hard work that everybody put in and agree to plan another party next year.

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