Waterline Model (Harrison, Scherer, Short)

Balancing Maintenance and Task

cf.: Waterline Diagram
cf.: powerpoint slides suitable for presenting the model to others
cf.: Task vs. Maintenance Test


  • Structure
clarity about goals and roles, especially decision making authority in reaching goals; effective
role organization
  • Group
team effectiveness; participation, influence, learning interactions, conflict resolution,
membership, interaction patterns
  • Inter-personal
how two people communicate with the one another and how respond to 1-1 conflict
  • Intra-personal
how individuals experience the process working together and their effectiveness in learning
from their experience

Paying attention to both task and maintenance

  • TASK … is above the waterline
  • MAINTENANCE … it below the waterline

Task Functions

  • Developing the agenda
  • Initiating
  • Information seeking
  • Information giving
  • Opinion giving
  • Elaborating
  • Coordinating
  • Evaluating
  • Energizing
  • Structuring
  • Summarizing
  • Consensus testing
  • Reality tester

Maintenance Functions

  • Gatekeeping
  • Encouraging
  • Harmonizing
  • Consensus seeking
  • Giving and receiving feedback
  • Standard setting
  • Tension reliever
  • Expressing group feelings
  • Processing

Dysfunctional Behaviors

  • Blocking
  • Power Seeking
  • Recognition Seeking
  • Dominating
  • Clowning

Some things to look for in groups…





Primary Goals sits at the intersection of three core ideas about communication:
  • Leaders create vision by communicating a compelling future to their teams.
  • Teams create success based on how effectively the communicate and coordinate with each other.
  • Entrepreneurial ventures are successful only when they communicate value to people with a concern that the business can take care of
In all cases, it’s about Conversations for Committed Results.  That’s our Primary Goal.  



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