Keeping Work Groups the Right Size and Makeup is a Wise Idea

Thinking “MEGA Design Firm” reminds me of

Part of the beauty of Information Technology is how talent trumps numbers and brute force. IT is a sort of equalizer. I don’t think great design works the same way as large economies of scale do. When you add too many people, things start falling apart a la Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead” fashion. 😉 Like Greg Howes writes here ( ), “…it would likely be like herding cats for them all to collaborate…” That word picture makes a great point against larger than necessary groups or companies.

It is inspiring to watch this video where “Peter Märkli discusses the structure of his practice – working with only as many people as a particular project requires.” You can watch the interview video here:

“This means we never work with many people but always with around ten or twelve.” Peter Märkli, Architect

“This means we never work with many people but always with around 10 or 12.” — Peter Markli

[I know, redundancy. This quote is worth repeating!”]

The number twelve seems to be an ideal number for groups. Larger groups tend to split up. Smaller groups don’t provide enough diversity or strength to achieve synergy. It must not be accidental that many boards of directors are made up of 12 members, that basketball teams have 12 players (soccer is odd with 11) and that Jesus picked a group of 12 disciples.

However, it’s not enough to pick the right number. You must also select the right team members to achieve an ideal balance between harmony and tension. Your team must have the proper makeup, pun(s) intended. Look at the Hollywood Last Supper above for inspiration.

Arguably one of the most difficult pills to swallow is having a “Change Agent.” While not always a pleasant experience, s/he can alert you to problems while there’s still time to do something about it. It’s important to learn not to shoot the messengers of Good News, even if it’s news that are bad in the short run, but great in the long run. Think of wisdom as the ability to make decisions that will make sense taking a long time frame into account. Instant gratification is alluring, but wisdom is always the best choice of action: knowing *AND* doing what is right.

Explore posts in the same categories: Things that matter, Training

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