Studies have shown the ideal team size for maximum efficiency per person on a project is three to five people. This assumes the highest quality of people where everyone is talented, engaged and driven.
There is often a big jump in production and quality when a project goes from one to two people. The team grows by 100 percent but efficiency grows by more than that amount.
Think about moving into your home. It could take you all day by yourself to get a large dresser up the stairs (and a lot of damage) but two of you can do it in five minutes. The multiplying effect of the team is obvious. Depending on the project and needs, there is a solid jump up to five people. After that, the additional people cause minimal gains and may even slow projects down. There is less ownership by each team member because the outcome feels less directly related to “them.” There is more conflict as everyone tries to have an impact. Constructive conflict is good. Destructive conflict (based on ego) is bad.
I always like to think of a basketball team. All five players on the court have enough involvement that they all feel a major part of the outcome. Many agree that there is magic behind the number five.
How do companies and teams “let go” and still share their knowledge as they grow? Many companies struggle with this every day. Team size is one way to systematically address this issue.