How Big Teams Choose to Fail

When it comes to teams, smaller is better.

The problem with big teams isn’t the people, it’s the communication.

“Communication is terrible” -Jeff Bezos

As you add more people to a team, the number of relationships between those people increases exponentially. There is even a mathematical formula for this:

n(n-1)/2

But maths can be a little dry, so I made a visualisation. Click the button below to add people to the team and see how the number of links between people grows exponentially as the team scales.

So how big is too big? It’s hard to say. I’ve seen various people throw around numbers anywhere from 5–12.

Jeff Bezos famously coined the term Two Pizza Team which I like. The idea is that a team should be small enough to share 2 pizzas (Which I guess is 5–7 people?). Once a team gets larger than that, the cost of communication becomes crippling.

But I don’t think there is any hard an fast rule to determine when a team is too big. The key is that when we create teams we need to remember to consider the cost of communication. Because

“Big teams usually wind up just wasting everybody’s time” -J. Richard Hackman
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