While not a new theory, having been coined by Jeff Bezos in the early days of Amazon, the concept of the ‘two-pizza’ team has gained new attention following research undertaken by consultancy firm Slalom of over 14,000 respondents globally, which confirms a preference for this way of working.
What’s the link between pizza and team-working?
Following a suggestion from Amazon management staff that employees should increase communications to increase effectiveness, Bezos argued that it is in fact the quality of communication that makes a difference, with a team made up of only the amount of people which two pizzas can feed as the optimum headcount for collaborative working.
Bezos went on to suggest that it is this streamlined approach to team-based working that will truly enhance productivity, and in turn, boost results stating that “the two-pizza team concept is embedded in our culture and it works well for us because we believe in providing our people a sense of ownership and customer obsession. possible with the two-pizza team, as it is non-hierarchical, nimble and effective in motivating people to innovate.”
This theory is backed up by almost 50 years of research by J Richard Hackman, whose scientific learnings suggest this construct emphasises the business value that can be uncovered by working in small, nimble teams.
How will this benefit your team?
Improved Communication and Collaboration
One of the primary advantages of working in small teams is improved communication and collaboration. When a team is small, it's easier for team members to interact with each other effectively. They can share ideas, provide feedback, and make decisions more efficiently. In larger teams, communication can become fragmented, leading to misunderstandings and delays in project execution.
In a 'two pizza team,' each member plays a crucial role, and their contributions are more visible. This heightened sense of accountability can lead to increased motivation and productivity. Team members are more likely to take ownership of their tasks and deliver results when they know their actions have a direct impact on the team's success.
Smaller teams can make decisions more swiftly. With fewer people involved in the decision-making process, there is less bureaucracy, fewer layers of approval and lessened risk of ‘HiPPO’, the tendency to defer to the ‘highest-paid person’s opinion’. This agility allows teams to respond quickly to changing circumstances and adapt to new information or challenges.
Focus on Core Competencies
A smaller team can concentrate on their core competencies, which are the areas where they excel. They don't get bogged down by unrelated tasks or responsibilities, allowing them to deliver high-quality work in their specific domain. This specialisation often leads to better outcomes.
Flexibility and Adaptability
Small teams are inherently more flexible and adaptable. They can pivot more easily when faced with unexpected obstacles or opportunities. Large teams may struggle to change direction quickly due to their size and complexity.
A 'two pizza team' is cost-effective. Smaller teams require fewer resources, both in terms of personnel and budget. This cost efficiency can be a significant advantage, especially for startups and small organisations with limited resources.
Enhanced Team Morale
Working in a smaller team can lead to higher team morale. Team members often feel more connected to their colleagues and the overall mission when they are part of a tight-knit group. This sense of camaraderie can boost motivation and job satisfaction.
Clearer Roles and Responsibilities
In a smaller team, roles and responsibilities are typically more clearly defined. Team members know what is expected of them, which reduces confusion and overlap. This clarity helps streamline work processes and ensures that everyone is on the same page.
The 'two pizza team' concept is a testament to the power of small, focused groups in achieving significant results. By fostering better communication, enhancing accountability, enabling faster decision-making, and promoting flexibility, small teams can make a big impact in any organisation. Whether you're a startup looking to maximise resources or a large corporation seeking to improve efficiency, embracing the 'two pizza team' approach could be the key to unlocking your team's full potential.