What Is Development?

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Development is change that leads to progress and improvement. The word is often used to refer to economic growth, but it can also describe a positive social change or increase in the quality of life. Development can be considered sustainable if it is achieved without damaging the environment.

The concept of development is complex and surrounded by many theories and debates. Some assumptions about development include whether it is caused by nature (genes, biology) or nurture (environment, learning). Other assumptions focus on whether or not people are passive participants in their own development or if they play an active role in choosing and shaping their own growth. Still other assumptions are related to the extent of control over development by a person or society.

Some theorists, such as Piaget and Erikson, focus on the idea that a person moves through developmental tasks in specific ways at particular stages of life. Others, such as Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum, use the term more broadly, arguing that everyone should be given opportunities to develop according to their own abilities.

Teams also go through their own stages of development. Bruce Tuckman’s work on the four phases of team development (forming, storming, norming and performing) has been expanded upon and modified by a variety of authors. However, his stages provide a useful framework for understanding what happens to a team when it is working together, and how that can be improved.

Developing as an employee can be done by setting goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based) to help you grow in your career. Regularly discussing professional development with your manager can also help you identify the steps you need to take to reach those goals.