Team Size: Get Shit Done

John Cousins
March 4, 2023
2 min read

The Optimal Number is 5.

Small is beautiful. A key to management and leadership is creating teams that are sized in the sweet spot. Consensus research says that number is five, plus or minus two. That goes for boards, development teams, meetings, and decision making bodies.

Too many cooks spoil the broth.

When too many people are involved in a task, it will not be done well.

If you want to get shit done, keep the amount of people directly involved around five.

Steve Jobs was known to kick people out of meetings if the size got too big.

This is a rule of thumb and obviously doesn’t apply in every situation. Allow self-organization to work its magic.


Thought leaders in the agile movement mention a preferred team size of 7 plus or minus 2 for software development Scrum teams.


In Jewish tradition the sweet spot number is ten. This is called a Minyan and is considered the optimal size for prayer and scripture reading.

Develop Disagreement

Develop diversity of opinion and experience in groups. Don’t let consensus arrive to easily.

Be aware to avoid “groupthink” and sycophants. Good managerial decisions require vigorous debate among a team of rivals. Alfred Sloan was the long-time president, chairman and CEO of General Motors. This quote is Sloan speaking at a GM board meeting and is from the board minutes.

Keep these ideas in mind as you witness teams flourish or flounder.

By keeping the optimal 5 in mind we have a benchmark to work off of in right-sizing our teams.

Share this post
John Cousins
Author, Entrepreneur, & Teacher

Receive my 7 day email course

Take your finance skills to the next level with my 7-day corporate finance email course. You'll learn all the essential topics from financial analysis to risk management in a fun, engaging format. Each day, you'll receive an email with practical examples, exercises and resources. Perfect for aspiring finance pros or anyone looking to expand their knowledge. Get ready to transform your finance game!

By clicking Sign Up you're confirming that you agree with our Terms and Conditions.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

If you like this article. Here are some more articles I think you might like.


The Road to Becoming a Unicorn: A Quick Guide to Startup Funding Rounds

The whole process of funding and developing startups has become more widespread because the cost of getting a product to market has dropped so precipitously in the past couple of decades from millions of dollars to typically anywhere from under $20,000 to $500,000.
John Cousins
December 18, 2023
7 min read

Oh Behave! Behavioral Economics: Why we do what we do.

Behavioral Economics is a method of economic analysis that applies psychological insights into human behavior to explain economic decision making.
John Cousins
December 18, 2023
4 min read
Personal Growth

Professional Development: 3 Types of Skill Sets

To perform effectively in a job and advance to greater responsibilities requires developing a well rounded set of skills. Every job and every industry has its specifics but these skill sets are general and apply across all jobs. Skills are fundamental for turning a job into a career trajectory and this trajectory is part of our personal fulfillment in life.
John Cousins
December 18, 2023
5 min read