Business Continuity Tip of the Month

The magnificent seven

Theory has it that the ideal size for a team or a working group is seven people. Above that, the group will tend to split into smaller groups – a phenomenon that can be readily observed wherever there’s a gathering of more than seven friends, associates or team-mates, whether it’s in social or a work situation.

It’s also been said that, in a meeting or work group, each additional member above seven reduces the likelihood of making good, quick, executable decisions by ten percent, and that once you hit sixteen or seventeen people, the team’s potential for effective decision-making is close to zero.

It stands to reason then, that a crisis or incident management team with more than seven members is likely to be less effective, from a decision-making perspective, than one with seven members or fewer. So it would seem to make sense to limit the membership of such a team, or at least the core, decision-making element of it.

That doesn’t, however, mean that other key people should be ignored. By all means include subject matter experts or other interested parties in meetings intended to disseminate information or engender discussion or feedback. When it comes to the knottier issue of decision-making, though – particularly in a crisis situation, where critical decisions may have to be made quickly – seven may well be the magic number.

Perhaps there’s a reason why the Magnificent Seven got their name. The Average Eight or the Ineffective Eleven doesn’t have quite the same ring to it!