5 is good — a case for small teams

Managers have five important core responsibilities, which everyone in our industry tends to agree on. In no particular order, we can summarize them as

  • be accountable and responsible for their team’s actions,
  • provide direction and guidance to their teams,
  • act as an interface to other teams,
  • care about the people on their team,
  • deliver the team’s product or service.

Most people appear to agree that in order for a manager to meet these responsibilities, the maximum team size under which that is realistically possible is about 10. Frequently, particular in organizations that pride themselves on their “flatness”, that team size is routinely exceeded.

This is unspeakably, ludicrously wrong, and runs a high risk of manager burnout and team failure.

This talk makes a case for a maximum team size of 5.



Florian Haas

Florian runs the Education team at City Network, and helps people learn to use, understand, and deploy complex technology. He has worked exclusively with open source software since about 2002, and has ...