In a typical T-group setting, designed to help each individual realise his/ her own potential growth, one would find varying degrees of involvement & contribution from different individuals – especially in early stages of group’s life cycle. Taking liberty of ascribing labels to the individuals on the basis of their contribution to the group’s purpose would yield a continuum
Detractor → Observer → Participant → Contributor → Exemplar
At the top-most end of the continuum being participant(s) who display exemplary role to taking-the-group-forward with her here & now approach, willingness to explore deeper, open sharing etc. The other end of continuum being characterized by detractor(s), who perhaps find every interaction funny or belittle every initiative or withdraw completely or defy the time & space boundaries of the laboratory setting.
A facilitator/ trainer interested in choosing appropriate interventions facilitative of moving up an individual/ group on this continuum will find this model’s underpinning drivers viz. Alignment and Initiative compelling. Essentially implying -- High-Initiative and High-Alignment to the purpose yield exemplary contribution; contrary to this the Low-Initiative and Low-Alignment results in detractive behaviour on the part of a team member.
As a facilitator – both unstructured and task groups (mostly at work place) my consciousness of this model has often helped me chose appropriate intervention to be able to enhance alignment &/ or initiative of an individual and group. On occasions, when I have discussed this model with fellow facilitator, often I have received support helping me further sharpen the quality of my interventions.
At times, often early stages of the group when one finds a member blocked, a directive/ leading intervention has helped me bring about greater alignment to the purpose of group-work. Sometimes, appropriateness of the choice of my intervention in such situations has stemmed from the understanding of this frame-work. Some other examples from my experiences include
- In one of my on-going real life interventions with a group of teen-agers (my son included) I found help in the model when I discovered that perception & actions of their teachers was misunderstood by this group. Often, leading to a rebellious behaviour and being detractive. A small intervention aimed at bringing about high alignment yielded positive results.
- This year, as the leader of team(s) which carried out Baldrige assessment of business excellence (one in Indonesia & another within TATA group), I leveraged my awareness of this model to generate high energy & enthusiasm towards fulfilment of group objectives.
A deeper examination of this model would lead one to the third dimension of this X-chart viz. the dimension of openness. As a facilitator, Trainer or Leader – one finds power of ‘openness’ as an underlying fulcrum to leverage this model. As openness increases between a team leader & member or trainer/ facilitator & participant it becomes easier to enhance the alignment and/ or initiative; which, in turn leads to moving up to becoming a generative individual, dyad and team characterized by contributory or still better an exemplary behaviour. Often in T-group, I have found my personal sharing has helped fellow participant overcome her (his) inhibition and propel new initiatives in the group.
My personal reflection about the group and individual members’ location on X-bar has often helped me determine a participant/ group’s location and heighten my consciousness about appropriateness of my interventions.