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Why Every Productive Leader Should Apply Jeff Bezos’s Two-Pizza Rules To Their Team

Why Every Productive Leader Should Apply Jeff Bezos’s Two-Pizza Rules To Their Team

Pizza is one of my favorite foods and honestly speaking, who doesn’t love this yummy dish! Even when it comes to communication at workplace, I believe that everyone who aspires to be a productive leader should look into the famous two-pizza team rule.

Does it sound intriguing? Whether you have already heard about it or not, this rule is quite interesting and practical in today’s organizations.

What is the two-pizza team rule for productive leaders?

So, let’s get straight to the point. What is a two-pizza team rule?

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To put it very simply, this rule suggests that the number of people in a team should not exceed what two pizzas can feed! According to some experts, this number is 5, whereas others say it is 7. However, most agree on one thing. The number of people in a team should NOT exceed 10. Plainly put, it means the team members should be in single digit.

Wondering who came up with this unique idea? It was Jeff Bezos and who hasn’t heard of Jeff Bezos? He’s the founder and CEO of Amazon.com. Generally, when we want things to work well, it is said that communication should be increased. Jeff Bezos disagrees!

According to him, “communication is terrible!” There is a reason why he believes it. As team size increases, the quality of communication keeps deteriorating. This is particularly true in case of group meetings. In a larger meeting, people often do not speak up and fall to the tendency of group thinking. Contrary to this, in smaller groups, creative thinking flows and conversations between people are more productive.

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The relevance of two-pizza team rule in today’s organizations

Okay, so Jeff came up with the two-pizza team rule but how do we know that it really works? The biggest reason why we believe this, is the success of Amazon.com.

Furthermore, the two-pizza rule is now supported by ample research and evidence. The problems with larger teams have increasingly been pointed out by researchers and experts, leading us to believe that team size, in fact, should be small.

Researchers Bradley Staats, Katherine Milkman, and Craig R. Fox point out in their article “The team scaling fallacy: Underestimating the declining efficiency of larger teams” that when working in teams, there is a tendency “to increasingly underestimate task completion time as team size grows.”

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Obviously, when the team size grows, connections or links between team members increase. Due to this fact, the connections often become unmanageable. This problem was highlighted by J. Richard Hackman, who is an organizational psychologist and expert on team dynamics. As a productive leader, you want your communication channels to be clear and open all the time.

Another issue is that members in larger teams seem to be more stressed. When psychologist Jennifer Muelle conducted a study with people working in varying team sizes, she suggested that people experience “relational loss” as the team size grows. Due to the loss of closeness and bonding, people become more stressed in larger teams.

Applying the two-pizza rule to your company

Let’s say, we are impressed with the two-pizza rule now and want to apply it to our own company. What to do? How to go about it? Here are some simple, practical ways of doing it successfully.

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  • As the rule says, limit the number of people in a team. However, you might be wondering how to do it because of your organization’s structure or way of working. This can be done by forming sub-groups within larger groups. Sub-groups can be practically as effective as small groups and then they can interact within the larger group as and when required.
  • Plan some event when people can hang out together. Having smaller work teams or meetings surely does not mean that the employees in an organization shouldn’t socialize in larger gatherings sometimes. These events can foster organization culture and mutual values and can leave employees rejuvenated for further tasks.
  •  If the team is not coming up with enough creative ideas or productivity, you can try formalizing communication. You might wonder that this may lead to an increase in time wastage but trust us, sometimes formal communication, due to its lack of confusion, results in more organized work and great results.

Do apply the rules to your organization and share the results and your own tips with us.

Featured photo credit: by kevin dooley via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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