Review of “Leading Teams and Ensuring Success”

I recently read a report called Leading Teams and Ensuring Success, Rainer Niermeyer, Sponsored by Citrix.

Most of the content covered is well known but the style is light, easy and engaging. As an introduction to a wide and complex topic it’s very accessible.

Personally the most interesting takeaway for me was on team size and performance, from Page 10, The Ideal Team Size

Too little or too much? Often the question of how large a team should ideally be cannot be accurately answered. If a team only reaches its goal to a limited extent, is it due to a lack of team members or are there too many cooks spoiling the broth?

The following example illustrates this:

The following phenomenon can be observed with a tug of war team: The collective pull strength increases linearly for the first seven people in the team. Beginning with the eighth person, the team‘s total strength increases to a lesser extent. From the eleventh person on, the team‘s total strength is actually reduced: In this case, uncoordinated “tugging” increasingly leads to friction losses, which reduce the team‘s total strength.

This example shows how important the correct team size is. Experience shows that a group reaches its critical size with seven to eight persons. Larger groups are controllable only when very stringently defined roles are in place, e.g. with a football team. However, in order to effectively lead the group and ensure learning success, experienced management trainers seldom train groups of more than twelve participants.

Elements of this example are reminiscent of the Mythical Man Month, a book from the mid 1970s  written by Frederick Brooks. His basic premise is that throwing more people at a project tends to make it later. For those of you who think that increased resources don’t necessarily increase performance think on this – nine women can’t have a baby in one month.

Published: January 23, 2014. Categories: Book Reviews and Robert's Blog.