‘A group is never in a steady state of equilibrium, but is in a continuous process of mutual adaptation.’
This, I reckon, means that groups are always changing.
But groups are made up of individuals.
So, do groups have their own distinct forces? Forces that challenge the status quo.
The word ‘dynamics’ derives from the Greek word meaning force. Knowing this, makes the term ‘group dynamics’ clearer, as in group forces.
At a slight tangent, group dynamics was important when I was getting to know my chickens. Humour me, while I regale you with my penchant for poultry.
I arrived in Surrey to more space, more time with an open mind. The image of freshly laid eggs, collected and eaten for breakfast had enchanted me for years. It was time to make this a reality.
A hen coop was already in place. Just the task of putting up a large secure run. Chicken wire, cable ties, deep trenches filled with rubble. Reinforcements that would deter even the most determined fox.
Not that I had seen any foxes in the countryside. Unlike my previous home town, where confident foxes grew fat on discarded takeaways.
At last the day had arrived to the collect the chickens, affectionately known as ‘the girls’. Driving away from the ‘Hen Lady of Leatherhead’, I felt I had been passed the mantle of mother hen. Hearing the scratching and gentle clucking from the box brought out my need to protect them.
Apprehensively I opened the box and three red crested heads popped up. They slid out tentatively to explore their new home, and one had even laid an egg during the journey. Lunch was sorted!
I fell into a rhythm over the next few months. Cup of tea on waking. Out to pick up three fresh eggs and the girls off to free range for the day. With the onset of dusk, they came back to roost in the predator proof coop.
That was until the incident of the dog!
The neighbour’s dog, a somewhat socially awkward pooch, took a dislike to the girls. It was a chance meeting when both dog and the girls were free ranging. Sadly, the outcome was one girl met an untimely end.
Uh oh a dilemma. Two chickens are a pair not a flock, and chickens like to be in a flock. It was back to the ‘Hen Lady of Leatherhead’, who nonchalantly confirmed that the dog incident was a common hazard with keeping poultry.
Off I set again with my three new additions, keen to add them to the depleted group. It would be an easy task you would think. But I was advised not so, as forming a new flock can be a tricky business. I and the girls, were faced with how to form a new group, sort out the pecking order (literally!), whilst managing:
• New roles in the group.
• Changing leadership.
• Social upheaval.
• Acceptable behaviours.
• New group stability.
My next post (Part Two) uses Kurt Lewin’s Three Step Model to understand change and social behaviour in groups. Pecking order in hen speak!
Come on get ‘egg-cited’ and re-join the discussion next time – sorry, I couldn’t resist an egg pun!