An Important lesson on managing Teams

I was wondering why it is, that we tend to have better meetings at Startups Club when the group tends to be smaller than when we have larger groups. I found the answer in a book called ‘The art of thinking clearly’.

In 1913 Maximilian Ringelmann, a French engineer, conducted an experiment on horses! After his experiment he concluded that the power of two animals pulling a coach did not equal twice the power of a single horse.

Obviously, he was mind-blown and he decided to test if the same applied in the case of humans. He had several men pull a rope and measured the force applied by each individual. He found that on average, if two men pulled together, each invested just 93% of their individual strength, when three pulled together, it was 85%, and with eight men, it was down to 49%.

This is explained using a phenomenon called Social loafing. When the effort of an individual is not as clearly evident, individuals do not tend to give a 100%.

Social loafing occurs in mental activities also! For example, in meetings, the larger the team the weaker their individual participation. Have you seen meetings where the speaker is goading people on, to be interactive, but barring a few, all the rest of them seem to be dead!

Once a certain number of participants are involved, their performance plateaus. Whether the group consists of 20 or 100 people is not important – maximum inertia has been achieved.

From the perspective of a startup this is a fact that just cannot be ignored, because it is imperative to achieve peak performance from all of the individuals who are a part of the team. This phenomenon makes it abundantly clear what an entrepreneur should be doing with his team; make them individually accountable!

Now do you understand why extremely large companies find it really hard to come up with path-breaking innovation?

Add Comment

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: