We have just added a new page to our website covering Fisher’s Theory of Decision Emergence. Essentially this covers four stages that a team goes through when making a significant decision or working through a project. It has a lot in common with the more widely known Forming Storming Norming Performing by Bruce Tuckman.

Fisher’s is an interesting theory and, if you have ever worked in a team on a task of any complexity, you will recognise the phases because they are expressed in fairly straightforward terms. The theory goes into the formation of the team and discussion of ideas. At any stage a team can become ‘stuck’ because there is conflict. Theories such as Fisher’s are useful because they enable us to break down situations and get the heart of the problem. Instead of a general feeling of unhappiness you can work out where you are and why things might not be working.

Sometimes we see these situations arise on team building days. Most of the time things go relatively smoothly. Away days are often rewards and people tend to see them as fun and not to be taken too seriously. However, sometimes a team has problems and one way of addressing them is to have a facilitated team building event. A good facilitator will encourage a simulation of work situations to emerge if appropriate and a team may experience the phases indicated in Fisher’s model.

For example, the second phase mentions the conflict that may emerge when two factions propose and champion alternative solutions to a problem. This can happen with something as simple as one of our Crystal Challenge activities. In most cases, when people aren’t taking the event too seriously, one side will back down – although they will be happy to revisit it if the ‘winning’ solution fails!

Facilitated team building sessions can really help a team to simulate business situations and work through to a solution. The stakes are lower with games, and that in itself is helpful. The key is to work with experienced facilitators who know how to use what happens on a day so that teams can return to work and solve real problems.