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Leadership

Productivity Hack Of The Week: The Two Pizza Approach To Productive Teamwork

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos's two pizza approach might just be the perfect way to build a productive team. Here's what it is and why it works.

[Photo:Flickr user Laura D'Alessandro]

If you're looking for more effective teamwork, Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos suggests implementing a very simple trick: the Two Pizza Rule.

When putting together your team or considering who to invite to your next meeting, consider how many people you could feed with two pizzas—that's how many people you should invite.

While Bezos's approach puts team numbers somewhere between five and eight people, other thoughts on the matter suggests cutting down the numbers in different ways.

According to Mark de Rond, an associate professor of Strategy and Organization at the Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, various studies over the years have shown that people tend to prefer teams of four or five members.

And for J. Richard Hackman, the Edgar Pierce Professor of Social and Organizational Psychology at Harvard University, the rule of thumb is "no double digits."

Regardless of the exact, magic number, the idea of working within small teams is believed to help diminish various innovation killers like groupthink and social loafing.

Social loafing, de Rond says, happens when team members reduce their effort because they feel less responsible for the output. And groupthink, according to Psychology Today, occurs when a group values going with the flow over critical evaluation, which Bezos believes is more likely to occur with large, centralized teams.

There are several other benefits for working in small teams like more effective communication, greater trust among team members, and less fear of failure, and Hackman says that the more people you add to a team, the more exponentially complicated the work gets.

"Big teams usually wind up just wasting everybody’s time," Hackman says.

To help you work smarter instead of harder, we're hitting you with a productivity hack each Friday. Check out our hacks here.

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