True North Groups: A Powerful Path to Personal and Leadership Development by Bill George and Doug Baker is about forming cohesive small groups to support us during challenging times. Small group membership requires a willingness to challenge life's assumptions, comfort with self-reflection, the ability to listen and the sustained ability to commit time to a common effort. Ideal candidates have a sense of humor about life, they like small group interaction and are good listeners, as well as facilitators.
Individual small groups possess common norms. Examples of these
norms are openness, trust, respecting uniqueness, empathy, withholding judgment, providing constructive suggestions and attendance. Barriers to group cohesiveness are lack of member commitment, absence of suitable boundaries, dominating behaviors,lack of sharing and the violation of group normative values.
High performing groups usually have good attendance, high levels of trust, adherence to explicit norms, meaningful discussion topics, regular retreats or meetings and a periodic group assessment. On occasion, groups struggle for reform for a variety of reasons. i.e. new blood is needed, people quit,the group segments into one or more splinter subgroups.
Early in the life of a True North Group, members may meet to build intimacy and trust. Each may discuss early life experiences, obstacles in life, self-awareness issues, values, passions, motivations, talents and personal relationships.
Bill George and Doug Baker have established a True North Groups Institute to support individual True North Group efforts. Institute leaders are available to support facilitation of the formation of new True North Groups among individuals and within organizations of varying complexity. There is a help line support to enhance the effectiveness of existing groups. A registry exists for professional facilitators to assist in new group formation and performance. There is an extensive bibliography with authoritative references.
Overall, Bill George and Doug Baker have crafted a very useful book for conveying the essential elements of small group formation, as well as the practical implementation problems which need to be addressed at various juncture points where small groups meet and debate.