Team Building Success – The Stairway Model

Heavy drinking last night must have given me the idea of The Stairway Model of Team Building Success. You be the judge…

The Stairway Model develops from the Escalator Model, which was built on the idea of the Elevator Model. In the Elevator Model, a group of people gets on an elevator that does not work. Improvements are hard to define and the door is closed a lot of the time.

In the related Escalator Model, the team gets on the escalator individually and then rides that to the top, where they reach a shared destination but nobody knows where they are. The goal was apparently about doing something and rising up, so that is what the team did. Know one is sure of the impacts or if there are any positive outcomes, but at least the view is different.

In the obviously more effective Stairway Model, it is easy to see progress being made from the hard work of the team.

We show Phase One below:

Stairway Escher Model of Teambuilding Progress by Square Wheels

You can clearly see that hard work pays dividends. The only issue is making the turns at each stage of improvement, which takes planning and communications to accomplish before the team moves on to the next stage of the journey.


How do we plan on reflecting on successes when we will pretty much always fail to reach the top?

How will we ever start a NEW next phase when this one is so continuous?

And why are we using Square Wheels when the cargo of the wagon are Round Wheels?

Maybe stopping for a moment to discuss possibilities might lead to some changes.

Stairway to Success Team Building with Square Wheels

  1. So, consider how this might represent how things really work in your organization.
  2. Do your teams ever feel a sense of accomplishment?
  3. Can they see clearly how their efforts have allowed the team to reach its goals?
  4. Do they have the resources and tools available to really perform efficiently and effectively?


We sell simple tools for organizational performance improvement, with a focus on people. Supervisors can use our Square Wheels images with little training.


Don’t Just DO Something, Stand There,


For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Scott and Dan Stones built The Square Wheels Project as an LMS, sharing tools and training to support Disruptive Engagement in the workplace.

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