Best Project Team Size to Get Optimal Performance

Best Project Team Size to Get Optimal Performance
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People of Debate the Best Project Team Size
What is the best project team size to get optimal performance? Some research and a lot of hands-on experience suggests that sometimes smaller is better and that Mini-Projects can be an invaluable approach to accelerate project performance.

Ten or Less is Better
By smaller, we mean projects teams of ten or less.  Some even say 7 is better than 10. Researchers at Bain recently reported that each extra member of a decision-making group over 7 reduces decision effectiveness by 10%.

Mini Projects Provide Speed and Insight
Project postmortems should be an integral part of any project – regardless of size. The project review process always provides valuable information. Usually you learn what you could have done better and you can apply the lessons learned on the next project.

Because of this, more companies are taking advantage of “mini-projects” to spur innovation, experimentation and speed.

What You Should Expect to Learn
What can you learn from a mini-project or a pilot test project? You could learn that the project should be expanded, not be pursued, or how to improve or change team dynamics or processes.

A Smart Way to Test Project and Concept Viability
Project experts will often advise that you try out an idea on a small scale to test its viability. This way you don’t risk too many resources.  How about trying things out in a small, well-defined market?

Large companies do this all the time – or they should. Remember the New Coke debacle? If only they had experimented with the new formula on a smaller public, they would not have had such a major failure.  Set up your project as a fact-finding and innovative experiment – then deal objectively with what you learn postmortem.

Pros and Cons Regarding Project Team Size
What is the best project team size for you and your specific objectives?  

The Pros of Small Project Team Size

  • It is easier to build collaborative relationships.
  • The project leader can make connections personally to each individual in order to articulate goals and gain agreement and commitment.
  • With team members handling multiple responsibilities, they have a lot more freedom to manage their wide-ranging roles.
  • Regular check-ins and small meetings are handled quickly and efficiently.
  • It is easier to shape a culture that suits the team. Engaged team members are excited about their work and committed to project goals.
  • Communication, transparency and accountability should be easier.

The Cons of Small Project Team Size

  • Team members have to wear several hats at once.
  • Diverse opinions and insights may be limited.
  • Team members may not have all of the required skills.
  • Team members may not be working exclusively on what they do best.

The Bottom Line on Project Team Size
Perhaps the greatest “plus” is flexibility. With a small group, you can adjust course as needed with little delay or upset. If you have selected the team members for their expertise, their compatibility, their work ethic and their practice of communicating openly, you will have a team that thrives.

To learn more about optimizing project performance from a leadership perspective, please download Top 5 Warning Signs of a Bad Project Leader

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