Although not a natural ‘joiner inner’ I’ve long since loved working on projects as part of a team – preferably a small one. Something between 3 -7 is my optimum or comfort zone. I’d never stopped to think about this. All I knew is that given a meeting of 10 people or more I found myself ill at ease and frustrated by either the lack of focus on finding a solution collectively or the dominance of one person’s conviction to a single solution. When Idris Motote talks about collaborative groups he pitches the optimum size at between 5-6 people and recognises from experience that problem solving in large groups can sometimes be fractious and tense.
“you need both convergent vs divergent thinking to optimize any groups creative output.”
We work with teams as big as thirty people through to small businesses of five. Often in our role as project managers we see the best work come out of a combination of convergent and divergent thinking and as long as there is trust it is this friction that drives the best work.
Guiding large meetings will always be challenging, so as a rule once the overall direction of the project is clarified, we divide into smaller working groups and get the heck out of there. We brainstorm delivery options and tease out the key issues, moving things on quickly (the sprint phase). We then then regroup (the huddle phase). And start all over again.
The team is more nimble, adaptive and energised. There are no long lulls between big meetings. Every member of the delivery team is responsible to each other and are able and empowered to contribute to shorter more regular meeting.
In short it drives a good pace, keeps us all thinking and most importantly it gets things done.