Team Processes and Their Training in Aviation
Prince Carolyn NAWCTSD FAA UCF Partnership for Aviation Team Training
Eduardo Salas Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division
Group process is the intragroup and intergroup actions that transform resources into a product; these processes serve to maintain the group and to help the group directly in achieving their goals.
-- Gladstein, 1984, p. 500
In a short story, the Argentinean writer Borges ( 1962) described three men who lived in an imaginary country. The first man lost nine coins, the second man, looking in the area where the coins had been lost, found four of the coins, and a third man found two more coins because he knew they had been lost. When the man who had lost the coins found the last three, he knew that all the coins had been recovered. This whole sequence was possible, explained Borges, because all three men were different manifestations of the same person, and each of the three had the same knowledge of the coins' status. Although teams must function, at times, like Borges' fictional man, team members do not have a single mind and memory and must compensate for this by using teamwork to achieve coordination.
With the recognition that technically competent aircrews were experiencing performance problems due to failures in crew interactions ( Ruffel Smith, 1979), teamwork became an issue for cockpit crew member training. Soon afterward, it was recognized that other teams working in aviation (e.g., cabin crews, maintenance teams, controllers) also needed improved teamwork. Accordingly, a concern for all aviation training now focuses on improving the ways individuals interact.
Attempts to improve team interactions for cockpit crews resulted in the introduction of crew resource management (CRM) training in the late 1970s. They were also responsible for the establishment of research programs on crew interactions, or team processes, by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the military services, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Ames Laboratory (NASA-Ames; see Wiener, Kanki, & Helmreich, 1993).