Moments ago Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected as leader of the Labour Party. Given that the challenge to his leadership was held after a vote of no confidence saw him lose by 172-40, it seemed an ideal time to think about his shadow front bench in the classic group analysis of forming, storming, norming, performing...
This model of group development was pioneered by Bruce Tuckman in 1965 who suggested that this course of development was 'necessary and inevitable' in all teams. Let's consider each:
Forming - here the group forms, so it is excited, polite, maybe anxious individuals looking toward the leader to define the agenda and set goals. The individual remains focused on themselves at this stage as they get to know their new colleagues.
Storming - this stage brings conflict of working styles and personalities. Individuals explore the group dynamic. Some jockey for position, some might question the authority of the leader and some question whether the goals are the right goals. This can potentially be a destructive time for the team and differences must be resolved before the group can move forward to the next stage.
Norming - co-operations sets in and the team focus on the common goal. Team members might socialise and ask each other for help. The team tolerates differences and appreciates the different strengths members bring to the group. A relapse to 'storming' is possible if the dynamic is threatened by for example new obstacles.
Performing - team members are motivated, knowledgeable and focused on achieving the group's goals. This is the time of success and confidence.
Without doubt, Corbyn's shadow cabinet never got through the storming phase as both the authority of the leader was continually challenged and the approach to the party's polices such as Trident could not be agreed upon. Motivation across the cabinet ebbed. To win an election a party really needs to be in the Performing stage.
The leadership election means that the party might well start back in the Forming stage of development and the challenge then for Corbyn going forward will be to get through the Storming stage successfully so that new Party and policy norms are established and they can reach the Performing stage before the next general election. I would note that it will not be enough to 'forgive and forget', rather, the common goal needs to be agreed upon by all and genuine co-operation needs to set in.