Bigger doesn’t always mean better. Here’s how you can have more effective meetings using this simple rule.
Let’s face it, meetings can be absolute time drainers and can needlessly eat up hours of your day. American businesses hold approximately 11 million meetings a day, which equals 55 million meetings per week and 220 million meetings per year. Some organizations even host meetings to plan future meetings. Funny, right? And needless to say, all people present aren’t the happiest to be present there. 9 out of 10 people daydream in meetings and 73% of people work on other things during meetings. So, how do we have more productive meetings?
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos may have an answer. If you love pizza (I mean, who doesn’t right?) you’ll be a fan of this theory. When at a Amazon offsite managers had a reasonable suggestion to increase team communication. But, just on the insight of that Bezos stood up and announced, “No, communication is terrible!” which is the basis of his ‘Two- Pizza Team Rule’. While more communication is necessary, more of it can be done in a more systematic manner. According to Bezos, team meetings should not be larger than what two pizzas can feed. Why? Think of your usual dinner party when it’s a small intimate group for 4 there’s easy communication and understanding between the individuals, however as the group grows larger, communication gets more dissected into mini conversations and therefore less efficient.
Business Insider recently revealed that Bezos only meets with investors once per year, for six hours (and avoids early morning meets at all costs). If he absolutely must attend a meeting, though, Bezos sticks to his “two pizza rule,” which states that he won’t hold or attend a meeting at which two pizzas can’t feed the entire group. So clearly, he is on to something here!
Gathering together a massive number of people for a meeting is said to stifle creativity. In Fast Company , Rachel Gillett writes that “the idea of working within small teams is believed to help diminish various innovation killers like groupthink and social loafing.”
While it’s natural to believe that more people for a meeting, means more productivity, more ideas, more communication. But what it lacks is the amount of coordination cost and management cost that comes along with it.
So, what’s the magic number? Bezos’s two-pizza rule works out to at most 6 or 7 team members to be present for a meeting. Teamwork expert Hackman pegs his magic number at 5 and fervently warns against going above 10. Management expert Bob Sutton cites the U.S. Navy Seals as having learned that 4 “is the optimal size for a combat team.” So it’s safe to say, any meeting with a single digit number will be productive.
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