Building A “Two Pizza” Team

28 Jul, 2015 |


We have a deadline, and it’s looking like we may not meet it, so what do we do? Throw bodies at it! Get more people involved! If two people can’t finish project in time, maybe 7 people can!

It seems to make sense on paper, but really when it comes down to successfully completing a job, more bodies makes work more chaotic. Then the real question is: Do more bodies really make a more efficient team?

The Two Pizza Rule

Enter the man who is known for saying things like “Communication is terrible!” You may not be familiar with his name, Jeff Bezos, but you are probably familiar with the company he founded: Amazon. Bezos is known for many accomplishments, but people can’t stop talking about his “two pizza team” rule. His idea is based on the notion that if a team can’t be fed with two pizzas, the team is too large, and thus rendered completely inefficient. So it really boils down to this: communication is terrible, but only if the team is too large to communicate.

So with the two pizza rule, consider you’re invited to a large dinner banquet, do you: a) mingle for a very short amount of time with each and every individual banquet guest or b) find a rather small group of individuals you know and spend the entirety of the evening talking to them? The great probability is that you’ll choose to do the latter and spend the evening having meaningful conversation with a small group of friends.

Did you know that a small study was conducted to test the small verse large team idea? Larger teams tend to be overconfident because of their size, and they think their abilities as a large skilled group will make them more successful. However in the study piloted by Bradly Staats, Katherine Milkman, and Craig Fox, they discovered that the two person teams took only thirty-six minutes to completed Lego building task. That same Lego building task took the four person teams fifty-two minutes to complete. Just in case you can’t do quick math, the four person teams took 44% more time to complete the task at hand. Makes you rethink throwing bodies at problems, doesn’t it?

Magic Number Five

Jeff Bezos two pizza rule works out so that a team should be no smaller than five people and no larger than seven. This creates less communication links within the team. The smaller team also helps create a greater level of accountability within the team. Also, within larger teams, Bezos found that many individuals weren’t sure who to communicate with when they hit a wall. Smaller teams create fewer barriers when it comes to communicating the project on a daily basis.

When you take a survey of your current team, are you employing bodies or are you carefully employing individuals who will work and communicate with each other to get a job done? Your team is your right hand, and the failure or success to your company. Take into account your employees and the size of teams that will make them the most productive and efficient. Bring two large Pizza Hut pizzas to the office, and if your team isn’t fed… then according to Jeff Bezos, maybe you should rethink the size of your team.

Despite the size of your time, few measures you can take to make sure that there isn’t any added friction. Team/Employee Scheduling software like the ones we have here at What Time Do I Work will help ensure that your two pizza team can continue to run smoothly.