Building a Start-up? Start with a small team

As the company’s size keeps growing, things start changing. The tight-knit feeling and fun of the small teams go away and communication becomes more difficult. People start minding their own business and drift towards the dreaded silo. More people mean more communication, more chaos and more of everything slowing down the things and this is why large organizations are often pegged as being inefficient. The Ringlemann Effect shows how individual members of a large team tend to become less productive, affecting the overall productivity and efficiency of the entire organization. 

Organizations should really focus on the structure of their teams and following the ‘two pizza rule’ is really a good idea. The CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos has introduced this rule that says if a team cannot be fed by two pizzas, it is too large. COOs, CEOs, and managers at the top level of an organization can leverage the benefits of smaller, more productive teams by employing the ‘Seal Team Effect’ that helps team members work together better due to the Family-style nature of the team. Such an arrangement can create stronger bonds keeping the projects on task. It is just like a Navy Seals team that consists of members specializing in different tasks. There is a person in charge of equipment, tech, medic and others making up teams that handle a specific environment like the vehicle, urban, waters and more. A similar structure can be implemented in the corporate world regardless of the size of the organization. Though the company may have departments, there should be teams within the departments to address goals depending on the project at hand. For example, a corporate-level Seal Team can include ‘Team Leader/Manager’, ‘PR/Communications’, ‘Designer’, ‘Marketer’, ‘Sales’ and ‘Developer’ adding some value to the overall project and the client satisfaction. 

Here are the main reasons why small teams are more productive than large ones:

Small teams are more powerful.

The German software leader SAP broke up its 2000 member development department into mini-teams of 10 people each. These teams had the authority to make decisions regarding the functionality, quality, blueprint and other aspects of the development process. The development time was reduced to half in a period of three years. Managers should consider this power of small teams that become highly entrepreneurial on their own. 

They move faster.

Fewer the people in a group, easier it is to gather them up to build a consensus. This is because a meeting never needs to be postponed multiple numbers of times to adjust to the members’ schedules. There is no need to spend time gearing up each member on new developments. When teams are smaller, there are lesser arguments, doubts, and misunderstandings to handle and it is possible to move faster towards the project completion and organizational goals. 

Members trust each other.

If the team contains fewer people, they get a chance to know each other and become comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. After all, ideas come out naturally and such an environment facilitates it. Great ideas are shared with only those people we trust. Smaller groups where members develop trust and cooperation among each other are more likely to come up with innovative ideas. In big teams where knowledge is used as currency, innovation and creativity do not flourish so well.

Small teams become more specialized.

Organizational workplaces of today still value knowing something about a lot of things. But in some cases, knowing much about a particular thing is more important. Smaller teams can reach this level faster than large groups. It is often time-consuming and frustrating to guide large teams to focus on a particular area. The subject gets divided among the members and nobody gets the chance to learn more about the entire area. When there are fewer people, the process becomes more streamlined and the members become specialized. 

Organizational resources are not wasted.

When a large number of people join a team, top-level managers might think it maximizes the brainpower and creates odds for success. However, there are chances that not all of them contribute actively. They might be wasting time which can be spent on other projects. On the other hand, if you create small core groups, you can make sure that everybody is using their time and skills to the maximum possible. 

Small teams foster mentoring.

Two-pizza teams make the perfect place for experienced members to mentor the less experienced ones. As team members interact and work together, a lot of mentoring automatically takes place. This is more advantageous in comparison to larger teams where members don’t talk to each other. Such mentoring helps the entire organization’s productivity along with the development of employees themselves. It is cost-effective as you are coaching junior people without having to spend on resources. 

Small teams weaken the barriers. 

In smaller, focused teams, everybody has to pull their weight. There is no room for politics, favoritism or bureaucracy. It is in everybody’s interest to listen to any member’s opinions and ideas. There exists no discrimination of race, gender, background or the sexual orientation of the source. All the barriers commonly found existing in large organizations weaken and a sense of unity is fostered when the teams are smaller. 

They enhance the customer experience. 

The family-like nature of small teams makes the team members more empathetic with their customers. They understand customer requirements better and try to fulfill them with dedication. Smaller teams are also better at taking care of their clients with effective follow-up. One of the biggest challenges in customer service and satisfaction is follow up and a large team often fails at it. A highly skilled team clustered into smaller parts is able to personally help customers turn their experiences into good ones every time. 

It might take some time and effort to switch to the smaller-team structure if your organization is presently overcrowded and you are likely to face a lot of resistance. However, you can work on it to gradually implement the small-team strategy for better performance, productivity and efficiency.

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