Barry Horwitz explains how to improve team communication, relationship, and productivity.
Have you heard about the “Two Pizza Rule?” It was introduced by Jeff Bezos in the early days of Amazon. The idea: every internal team should be small enough that it can be fed with just two pizzas. Beyond that, Bezos believed, the group would start to become less effective.
Pizza aside, there is research to back this up. The “Ringelmann Effect” suggests that the larger the group, the less individual effort is contributed by members of that group, with the impact becoming decidedly more significant as the team grows beyond five or six.
My experience in leading groups supports this as well — not that clients are always happy with my efforts to constrain group size. The main argument against small groups is usually one of representation, i.e., the group needs to be larger in order to have input from a broad range of stakeholders.
Representation is a critical element, of course, but it need not result in a ballooning of the number of participants. For example, in setting up a strategy development work group (often known as a Strategic Planning Committee), we look for participation by both Board and staff members. The Board members bring a longer-term perspective, whereas the staff members bring the knowledge and pragmatic insight of those dealing with the day-to-day issues. But so long as we have the right people (more on this below), we don’t need many of them.
There are other, more practical reasons for limiting the size of the group.Scheduling, for example, becomes much more challenging as the numbers grow. In a recent project of mine, where a 15-person strategic planning committee was put in place, we never had a single meeting in which all members were present! This meant:
The large group size and resulting imperfect attendance diminished representation
Leaders had to spend additional time updating absent members
The lack of a consistent group of participants had a demotivating effect on the group overall
Beyond size considerations, it is also important to incorporate diversity. Especially when considering strategic direction, it is essential to have a range of perspectives along characteristics that include race, gender, age, and other elements. It’s particularly useful to have a group that looks somewhat like your clients or customers, to the extent you are able.
Finally, when establishing a work group, I pay close attention to individual characteristics of potential team members. They must be…
Key points include:
Read the full article, Your Work Group Needs Work, on Horwitzandco.com.