Could Your Team be More Effective With an Odd-Man Out?

Very strange...

It seems intuitive to think that in any group aiming to make the best decisions, equally balanced viewpoints are ideal. But maybe that’s too simplistic—a recent study just found that odd-numbered groups made better decisions than even-numbered ones, simply by virtue of how the numbers worked out. As the Boston Globe‘s Ideas section reports:

In a study with significant implications for everyday life, two
management researchers found that small groups with an odd number of
members tend to work better than groups with an even number of members.
The conventional wisdom, as confirmed in an initial survey, is that
even numbers and even-numbered groups are better. However, in an
experiment with discussion groups and in an analysis of dormitory
groupings at Harvard, the researchers found that even-numbered groups
resulted either in stalemate (e.g., two against two) or domination
(e.g., three against one). In odd-numbered groups, disagreement often
implies a swing vote (e.g., two against one), which encourages the
majority to tread more carefully. One caveat is that the odd-number
effect is less powerful in groups that are more diverse, because those
groups are less cohesive in the first place.

Menon, T. &
Phillips, K., “Getting Even vs. Being the Odd One Out: Conflict and
Cohesion in Even and Odd Sized Groups,” University of Chicago (November

[Image via Rich007]