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

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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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Lianne Martha Maiquez Laroya

Lianne is a licensed financial advisor, Registered Financial Planner, entrepreneur and book author.

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