The principal pioneers in developing T-Groups were Kurt Lewin (although he died before the T-Group became the basic training format for the NTL's Human Relations Laboratory), followed by Kenneth Benne, Ron Lippitt and Leland Bradford (Benne, 1964).
Without many hours of practice both as a participant and as a T-Group facilitator, much about the workings of T-Groups will remain somewhat abstract and inaccessible.
However, we can generalize about what T-Groups produce and by doing so we see how appropriate the T-Group is for teaching emotional intelligence.
In this schema, lines depict the coaching/observer relationships between the two T-Groups.
Discussion: T-Groups are frustrating encounters and they often get the blame (along with the T-Group leader) for unresolved conflict that arises from the T-Group interactions.
In brief, the T-Group is a vehicle for learning about yourself, about your impact on others, and about adopting behaviors that enhance your effectiveness in group and interpersonal encounters.
When we look at a partial list of the goals of T-Group training, it becomes readily apparent that this is a good fit for pedagogy in teaching emotional intelligence:
Along with many others, Argyris was elated by the success of T-groups, with their power to unfreeze the rigid, authoritarian behaviour of so many managers and to generate a feeling of liberation and excitement.
This rapid return to original behaviour, by people who had been extremely enthusiastic about the `new approach' generated by T-group training, led Argyris to formulate an idea that has affected people's views about organisational behaviour for many years.
In my view these are key to the current and future developments of OD, where OD can shake off the suspicion of "soft" management and T-groups and show its value to the business world.
The first chapter covers some of the basic concepts used in OD, and provides brief explanations of experiential learning, the T-group, group process, organizational culture, team building and other terms used in relation to these concepts.