• Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has a food-based suggestion for team size.
  • Don’t forget about quality as well as quantity.
  • Being able to handle change is a vital skill for individuals within teams.

How do you know if you have the right number of people on your team? According to Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, the answer is all about food. Early in the e-commerce giant’s development, he’s reported to have said that if a team couldn’t be fed with two pizzas, it was simply too big.

A more nuanced answer might be that it really all depends on what you want that team to achieve.

A team of researchers recently concluded that within the science and technology industry, large teams tend to pick up the scientific consensus and develop it further, while smaller teams tend to challenge and disrupt.

They reached that conclusion by analyzing 65 million scientific reports and papers published between 1954 and 2014.

The researchers concluded that there is a valuable role for a range of team sizes, and that the scientific community benefits from both development and disruption. “Small and large teams are essential to a flourishing ecology of science and technology and suggest that to achieve this, science policies should aim to support a diversity of team sizes,” they wrote in the journal Nature.

People in the UK eat 86 grams of pizza per week
People in the UK eat 86 grams of pizza per week
Image: Statista

Will size matter?

As the Fourth Industrial Revolution continues to disrupt the employment landscape, ensuring teams of people are able to work effectively will be increasingly important. Change and disruption can cause a loss of focus as people worry about their job security or how their role might evolve.

What is the World Economic Forum doing about the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

The World Economic Forum was the first to draw the world’s attention to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the current period of unprecedented change driven by rapid technological advances. Policies, norms and regulations have not been able to keep up with the pace of innovation, creating a growing need to fill this gap.

The Forum established the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network in 2017 to ensure that new and emerging technologies will help—not harm—humanity in the future. Headquartered in San Francisco, the network launched centres in China, India and Japan in 2018 and is rapidly establishing locally-run Affiliate Centres in many countries around the world.

The global network is working closely with partners from government, business, academia and civil society to co-design and pilot agile frameworks for governing new and emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous vehicles, blockchain, data policy, digital trade, drones, internet of things (IoT), precision medicine and environmental innovations.

Learn more about the groundbreaking work that the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network is doing to prepare us for the future.

Want to help us shape the Fourth Industrial Revolution? Contact us to find out how you can become a member or partner.

Ensuring each team has the right mix of personalities and capabilities is going to become more important as people adjust to this new world of work.