Quixote Consulting

GRP Model: An Introduction to the GRPI Tool

The GRPI model is a tool used by teams to increase the effectiveness of their team development, for better project management and many other areas. Developed by Richard Beckhard, the GRPI tool is simple enough to be memorable with enough depth to be useful again and again in a variety of situations. If your team is lost in the weeds, the GRPI model helps team members reconnect with a common purpose and realign with what’s most important for you all.

GRPI stands for:

  • Goals
  • Roles
  • Process
  • Interpersonal
Goals – The G in the GRPI Model

Imagine a flock of geese flying south for the winter. You hear them first and search for them up in the sky. There, high overhead they are in a V formation or long line, heading south in a clear direction. Their goal is clear. They know where they are going. They don’t know what they’ll encounter along the way, but their inner GPS has the destination programmed in.

Goals give direction to a team, and to an individual. This is the first step for any successful venture, to have a common target, to know who you are and where you want to go. Noel Tichy also says that unclear goals are the cause of 80% of team conflict. If a goal isn’t clear (and agreed on by everyone on the team), there isn’t much hope of success. Gallup’s Q12 survey of employee engagement begins with: “Do I know what is expected of me at work?” Goals are where it all begins – the first and most important step.

Roles – The R in the GRPI model

The goal is clear for the geese flying south. So are their roles. They each take turns at the front, the most challenging position in the flock. The other geese tuck in behind in each other’s slipstream, drafting each other to conserve strength. The lead goose neither stays too long or too briefly in this lead role. He or she doesn’t worry about perceived authority or hierarchy – if you’re fresh and have energy from resting, you’re going in the front. When you’re tired, you’re getting helped.

Clear roles let people on the team know who’s doing what and who is responsible for what. People know for sure who has authority to do what (authority that’s based on expertise and talents, not hierarchy), who’s accountable for completion of specific tasks. Noel Tichy found that this is the next most common cause of group conflict after unclear goals.

Process – The P in the GRPI Model

You hear geese flying south long before you see them. They’re constantly communicating with each other – it’s a very efficient process. I don’t know what they’re communicating, but it clearly works very well. They don’t stop mid-flight to argue about directions, who’s going to make decisions or deal with internal conflict. I’m sure it comes up for them in some manner, but they clearly have an elegant, simple process that allows them to deal with it when it does come up.

Standardized processes for teams have the same benefit. Successful teams have clear (and frequent) communication, constructive ways of dealing openly with inevitable conflict, as well as elegant processes for group decision making. Noel Tichy found unclear process to be the third most important cause of group conflict.

Interpersonal – The I in the GRPI Model

The geese flying south trust each other to spell the lead goose when needed, that the lead goose won’t stay for too long or too short a time, that at a certain point they’ll all need to rest and eat in a safe place before continuing on. And they give each other feedback – you can hear it often. They trust each other and communicate openly.

Teams that have successful interpersonal relationships know the individual strengths of members on their team, care about each other as people, make and keep commitments with each other, and take the often difficult actions that establish mutual trust.  The interpersonal relationship piece is an elusive (and often forgotten) part of the GRPI tool. When people do care about each other as people and know that they’re cared about as well, teams become very strong and very durable in the face of adversity.

Quixote Consulting uses action learning to explore the GRPI model with a series of engaging multi-round team building activities in GRPI Team Quest: GRPI model team development and team building activities.