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Teamwork: Small Teams Shine at Collaboration and Innovation

By Dick Weisinger

Small teams are more effective, based on numerous studies by psychologists. Smaller teams enable better accountability, flexibility, and trust amoung team members. Large teams are often overconfident and ultimately underperform.

Large teams are notorious for having issues with communication and coordination, and additionally tend to be risk adverse and unable to adopt quickly to a changing environment.

The Ringlemann Effect is the observation that the effectivity of a group declines as the size of the group increases. Within small teams its also easier to build connections and relationships and to be able to show empathy to other team members. Team members of small groups are most effective when they feel included and given the opportunity to make challenging by attainable tasks.

Jeanet Wade, “business alchemist” and author, wrote for Forbes that “if we want healthy, engaged, loyal teams we have to allow them to contribute at the highest level of their capability. Anything less and your high performers disengage, your high potentials distract, and your underachievers give themselves a silent high-five for doing as little as possible while maintaining their place on the team.”

Dashun Wang, professor at the Kellog School of Management, and James Evans, professor at the University of Chicago, wrote for Harvard Business Review that “in recent times, it has been easy to believe that adding another member or three to a team will always be the right choice—or at least doesn’t hurt. But creating larger teams likely shifts the focus and outcome from disruptive to developmental. For the most innovative projects that seek to disrupt a field and move the needle dramatically, one perhaps should consider how to shrink the size of the team.”

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