Comment on “Smart Innovators Value Smaller Teams Over Better Processes”


Read the HBR article by Michael Schrage

Quiet but unsubtle innovation insurgencies are emerging in global enterprise. Instead of investing more in innovation process or cultural transformation, I’m observing more large organizations giving greater resources and responsibilities to ever-smaller teams.

Innovation initiatives that were once handled by dozens a decade ago are now run by only handfuls. The median size of the core innovation group has dropped from a football/soccer eleven to a basketball five. Less apparently enables more.

After you have read the article, post a 200-comment reaction in the comments section below


You may also like...

77 Responses

  1. Ally Fink says:

    The Lockheed Martin Skunk Works is an example of large organizations investing more in small teams over innovation processes. The idea is to give greater resources and responsibilities to a small team to keep the people count small rather than growing the team. Keeping teams small is possible due to innovative technology measures such as using digital and social media to extend their reach. Small teams have the ability to scale influence and deliverables in order to grow in power and influence – which is very different compared to the mindset of successfully scaling the number of people on teams. Having a smaller team allows for better communication flow and team connectivity. More benefits that come with working within a small team is enhanced collaboration, trust, quicker coordination, and efficiency. The Skunk Works method works because the organization is placing more responsibility of smaller teams rather than trying to quickly grow and expand the team. Additionally, taking advantage of innovative technology reduces the need to add more people to a team, therefore a team can remain small and intimate. Even though the article did not mention this, I’m sure the team acted more efficiently and effectively because of the small team dynamic of enhanced communication and trust.

  2. Alba Segura-Cruz says:

    The article discusses specific changes that have occurred, from large organizations having responsibilities, to now smaller teams taking up those same responsibilities. One thing that stood out to me in particular was when the article stated, “They work very hard to stay very small.” This stood out to me because it reveals that organizations may be turning down amazing individuals that may help the organization grow, for simply trying to stay small. The article also made me think of why initiatives that were handled by a dozen of people are now only a handful. This may be due to the fact that technology continues to advance. For instance, the machinery used in the production of products practically gets rid of the assembly line and how individuals use to hand make the products. If this is the case, then it makes sense as to why teams are now smaller than before. However, the article made me think if with more people, the organization can be more efficient, or if they are more efficient with fewer people. I have been put in situations where it is difficult to accomplish a task when there are about ten people working on the same thing, whereas it is easier when only three people are working on it. This is something that every organization should take into consideration.

  3. Sam Staples says:

    While many see leadership and followership differently, the truth is both rely on one another. It’s no secret that organizations have placed an emphasis on the importance of teams during the turn of the century. The truth is that while teamwork is popular, few organizations can create teams that are effective. Schrage explains that when there are too many people on one team, the team over-powers the task that the team was originally assembled for. In smaller teams shared leadership, where leadership is viewed as a role assigned to every team member, derives. Essentially, employees lead one another. However, more than just a small number of people are needed to foster productivity in teams. It is the job of each member of the team to hone their skills in transformational leadership, where specific types of behaviors engage followers, and in managerial leadership, activity that helps guide the production as well as the well-being of employees to support the current objectives of the team. Together, these forms of leadership create a stable, micro-focused environment increasing productivity. As an emphasis on teams continues to grow, it’s important that companies do not lose the ultimate purpose of teams: to find solutions for the company’s overall success.

  4. Sophie Maccarone says:

    The Lockheed Martin Works works because a smaller group of people works more efficiently than a larger group. In today’s world, larger companies are becoming too big and complex that they need to give more responsibilities to groups that are further down in the chain. When the managers and employees of high status have less to worry about, then it enables them to do more. If there is a huge project that needs to be done and the team asks more people to come and help them finish it faster, it may not get done as fast as the people currently working on it. Bringing more people into the equation wastes time for explanation and sometimes different ideas and opinions that are not needed at that stage of the project. Overall, fewer people are more. More work can get done in smaller groups and by going small, a company can grow. As technology and innovation advance, it minimizes the need for more people and allows there to be small groups with more responsibility. As technology advances, fewer people are more successful and better quality work for the future.

  5. Kelli Rasmussen says:

    In this article, it discusses the differences in large teams vs small teams. The whole point of the article is to decide whether your large organization needs a smaller team or a larger team to complete the task given to them. With the new technology and different innovative resources that companies are gaining, they have tended to need less people in their teams. The phrase “smaller is beautiful” really stood out to me. There is a common understanding that smaller teams tend to have an easier time with cohesion and getting the job done due to not having to worry about cramming a bunch of different types of people for one project. However, if a team is too small it can become a lot on individuals and can cause stress and tension. There needs to be a balance of a happy medium; where the team is not too large but not too small either. For the organization to be efficient, it needs to analyze the the tasks and decide what will work best for the company and individuals. The term “slow growth” also caught my attention because I feel like organizations tend to want to quickly grow and get to their end goal quickly. Slow growth allows for more opportunities and a stronger cohesion to form. It also could allow for innovation to grow progressively along with the team. It refers back to the famous term, “slow and steady” or the story where the tortoise beats the hare in the race. With less people, the opportunity for growth, strength, and efficiency are possible.

  6. Fernando Guerrero says:

    This article states how large organizations are giving greater responsibilities to smaller teams. Innovation initiatives in this big corporations are being handled by a smaller team, rather than a working team of dozens. Smaller teams allow for greater accountability, autonomy, and flexibility. The logic of small team collaboration is that the fewer people working together, the less bureaucracy gets in the way. So, there is overall more efficiency. when working on a small team rather than a larger one.

  7. Joe Hickey says:

    The Lockheed Martin SkunkWorks works because when an organization becomes more innovative it requires more people and this means the team sizes begin to grow which is generally a bad thing, so SkunkWorks combats this by keeping teams small so that they can work to complete tasks bigger then themselves rather than a large team of people working on completing something that does not necessarily require all of that attention. The article then goes on to mention the difference in slow and fast growth and how they mean the opposite of what you would expect. They mention that the slow growth of small teams is usually much more valuable than fast growth of a larger team and typically indicates that something is wrong or should be altered for more valuable results. While not everyone has adopted this strategy some corporations agree with this “lean and mean” mentality which has since been developing and proven to deliver small teams that are still incredibly powerful and incredibly innovative. Another advantage to keeping teams small is it makes learning and applying new things easier since the smaller groups tend to become closer and develop stronger bonds with one another compared to a larger team.

  8. Claire O'Brien says:

    The “Smaller is beautiful” innovation was created by Kelly Johnson and is an example of how smaller groups are being invested by larger companies because it is better than the innovation processes. We learn from Michael Schrage that less is more and that is a common trend being shown today. For example, he mentions how Zuckerberg is big on the use of small teams and Google encourages individuals and smaller groups to innovate hard and fast for top management. However, the question that rise is are going small to get big is the right idea? Or in other words, would teams work better in a smaller or bigger setting? Well, I think that is what the debate is about in this article. Advantages of keeping small groups are communication is easier and working together, as long as you build an effective team, can be easier in order to build a “lean and mean” performance. However, some disadvantages that can arise in group work can be a conflict between team members and it can be time-consuming, especially for smaller groups. Overall, it depends on who you hire, if they were right for the job, and the resources provided for these individuals. Being successful in these two areas could create an agile team to create impressive results.

  9. Pablo Sicilia says:

    This article clearly showed us that there is not always a need for a large group over a small concise team. With technology and innovation even larger companies have started to move back to smaller teams, but why is that? I believe smaller teams mean more accountability from each team player, responsibility is managed differently as efficiency will be much better as if there are fewer people in a process the faster a thing can get done. It is really important that before analyzing which team size will fit you best that, the business analyzes the tasks and the processes to accurately identify and assign the team to its former tasks.

  10. Joe Lazzari says:

    As I have seen in the workplace, smaller teams can be a lot more efficient simply because of their agility and flexibility when solving a problem. The article brings up great points on why this philosophy is growing, especially in the tech sector. You hear all the time that you need to cut the fat off of a business, but in this case, it works when working in smaller groups. This allows a better understanding of team weaknesses and strengths. This allows the team to make themselves much more efficient while working together. If teams put people in smaller groups, allow them to collectively put their ideas together, put them in positions to succeed, and so on. This article emphasizes innovation and while smaller teams will grow as large corporations continue to use them, we will see if the smaller player will join their lead.
    In my experience, working with smaller teams can be much more effective than larger ones just because sometimes you need to prioritize other people’s thoughts and ideas over someone else’s, this way in a smaller team there is less of a headache when trying to prioritize and collaborate on projects.

  11. David Doyle says:

    Skunkworks is successful because they have adopted Coco’s Chanel adage of “elegance is refusal”. By keeping their teams small, the organization can remain agile and effective without sacrificing brainpower. There is a common understanding that smaller teams tend to work better together because they are able to coordinate their efforts much more effectively. More benefits that come with working within a small team is enhanced collaboration, trust, quicker coordination, and efficiency. The methods used at Skunkworks work because the organization is placing more responsibility of smaller teams rather than trying to quickly grow and expand the team. The lean mentality is slowly taking root in corporate America because they have seen the success of the nimble Skunkworks groups that can effectively incubate and execute projects, leading to overall success for Lockheed Martin.

  12. Marcus Uptmor says:

    The Lockheed Martin SkunkWorks works because unlike larger groups, smaller teams work more efficiently. In the modern-day workplace, larger companies are getting too big that they need to give more tasks and responsibilities to teams that are lower in the business chain. When higher-ups like managers have less work to do and fewer things to worry about, it makes them want to do more. Bringing in more people to complete a project takes longer than it should have because employees have to explain to everyone in the group how it needs to be done and different opinions and ideas could be brought up during the project’s completion. In simple terms, the fewer people working on the project, the better. By going small, teams can complete projects faster and companies could potentially increase in size. With the advancements in technology, the need for more people on a project is minimized and small groups are given more responsibilities, making them more successful and they give better quality work for the future of the companies.

  13. Michael McShea says:

    This article does a great job of highlighting the differences in the effectiveness of large vs. small teams. The writer, Michael Schrage, challenges organizations to look inwards on their team sizes and determine if they can successfully scale the team’s influence and deliverables. He states that as more innovative technology is integrated into the workplace, the need to add people onto a team decreases. Schrage also believes that a key indicator of performance is slow growth, as a fast-growing innovation team means either the wrong people were hired or that the wrong challenge was picked. Initially, I disagreed with this since typically organizations want to grow as fast as possible in all directions. However, I now believe that with the right people in a smaller team is more effective than a bigger one of dysfunctional people. With a smaller team, trust and cohesion are increasingly higher and team dynamics are overall better. He states that small teams are growing in innovation, power, and influence. This article has clearly opened my eyes and I think a lot of corporate America needs to read this and reevaluate their team’s performance as a lot of teams could do much, much more with fewer folks.

  14. Caroline Darnell says:

    The article describing how small teams are more efficient sheds light on why Skunk Works at Lockheed Martin works. More industries around the world are finding that smaller teams create more efficiency at a greater profit than large teams. There are a few reasons for this new phenomenon. With fewer team members comes more responsibility and delegation to each teammate. When each individual is assigned various tasks within a small team they are more motivated to complete them, as each other is aware and depending on it. In a larger team, on the other hand, it can be easy to hide away from your responsibilities, slowing work down and diminishing the idea of individual contributions. Additionally, in smaller teams, opportunities for a cohesive bond are more abundant compared to larger teams that enable alliances and divide. If a small team were to fail cohesively, it would become apparent immediately. However, tension thrives in larger teams that are able to continue to rely on key members to keep minimal peace. In this way, small teams get things done faster, as more responsibility is put on both the relationships and tasks of each member.

  15. Justin Pryor says:

    Innovation, idea sharing, and actually getting to the core of the problem and the solution, are far easier in smaller teams, which is why the Lockheed Martin SkunkWorks method works so well. With the boom of technology, teams are able to communicate faster amongst one another with more flexibility and resources at their disposal to achieve the problem quickly. By creating smaller teams with smarter individuals, those individuals are allowed to express their ideas and collaborate more effectively as they do not have to seek the approval of everyone on a massive team. I have seen this principle work simply in school. In a larger lecture size class, there is very little idea sharing and innovation, however, when individuals within the larger class are split up into groups of three, ideas flow rapidly and there is a plethora of information and perspective being shared amongst the class. The key in this model of work, however, is making sure the teams are built with the right people. Everyone within the group must be deeply knowledgeable of the topic so he or she is able to speak about it eloquently without any additional explaining needing to partake. Then, the group can discuss their individual ideas on the manner, which in turn creates the strong innovation that has been seen in successful businesses.

  16. Julia Koppisch says:

    Michael Schrage wrote, “instead of investing more in innovation process or cultural transformation… more large organizations give greater resources and responsibilities to even-smaller teams.” As a result, this has halted organizations’ innovation, power and influence through larger teams. Large organizations have shifted its responsibilities down the totem pole. While it is important to free up managers’ time, the organizational structure of the company needs to be efficiently smooth. The lack of resources and the addition of new team members do not effectively contribute to innovation. Technology cannot replace the lack of resources. As the team grows, organizational behavior becomes more complex than necessary. Since teams rely on one another to achieve their common goals, bigger teams tend to overshadow the common goals with irrelevant tasks. Bigger teams halt the innovation. Hence, smaller teams are more effective to influence and power. However, it is important to have multiple smaller teams, rather than one big team. Management should not place an immense amount of pressure on one small team. It is unrealistic to assume that one small team can handle the pressure and the workload. Smaller teams create a tight knit connection to one another, which prevents issues from arising.

  17. Based on the article and fellow students’ comments, the concept of small teams and the methods between the members of Skunkworks and its practices, a smaller team works far more efficiently with the material at hand. Because Skunkworks deals with top secret material, it makes sense that not only are the teams created small, but that it is encouraged to remain small, in order to protect what’s being created, as well as encourage loyalty to both each other in the team, as well as a desire to keep the company intact. On the topic of operating top-secret clearance and material, a larger group could ensure that we produce far quicker, but in the event that a individual or individuals go rouge, it results in more loose ends that the company would need to clean up. Loyalty would be harder to maintain as well amongst a larger group because in the event mentioned above, everyone would have a high sense of distrust amongst each other, due to the actions of few. Plus the larger the group, the harder for individuals to feel united to each other in the beginning, as the lack of close relationships is practically non existent.

  18. Molly Krzywicki says:

    The article emphasized the entrance of “lean and mean” teams in the organizational workplace. While it was outwardly said that companies are not purposefully cutting down the sizes of their teams, it is still becoming much more prevalent today, which seems to be the opposite of what would be expected. These powerhouse companies are usually seen with an arsenal of huge units that pump out work, but now we are seeing managers posed with the question “How can we scale the team’s influence and deliverables?” Without this focus, the author points out that it is incredibly easy for these silos of teams to relentlessly scale upward. More and more, companies are seeing the benefit of smaller teams that assure faster velocity and agility in the innovation and decision-making process. At the same time, this innovative process must be subservient to small teams rather than small teams be submissive to the process. If the process is not right for the objective, it is still important to evaluate which kind of team, small or large, is the most fitting- this is not an end all be all decision and should be taken in stride. The slow growth and transition to smaller teams allow the company to adapt and learn alongside each other, creating a long-lasting relationship on all fronts.

  19. Thomas Consoli says:

    A saying that I believe is a perfect way to sum this ideology up is “less is more.” For many years different companies and organizations have felt that the more people working together the better the results will be. While this practice may have worked many years ago, I believe that with the help of technology it has allowed big groups to be cut in half. With having smaller groups, it allows a large group of people to be given a task that is much smaller allowing many more tasks to be done on an everyday basis. The reason why I believe Lockheed Martin skunk works is by realizing niches and micro focusing will truly create better outcomes in the future. As time goes on and the business world changes it will be interesting to see what new ideologies are created and what companies will follow it.

  20. Aidan Clemente says:

    This article discusses the idea that smaller groups are in fact better at helping organizations innovate. This idea that small groups work directly aligns with Lockheed Martin’s SkunkWorks, which does work. When it comes to SkunkWorks, or small groups for that matter, it provides for a stronger, more fluid innovation process. In times where people may want to bring in as much talent as possible, it may be more beneficial to have a small group of thinkers tasked with creating something new, or building upon ideas. The misconception that more people will provide faster, and stronger remotes leads organizations to overhaul employees for a project, is actually detrimental to the innovation process. When there are so many people working together with strong abilities and mindsets, they may fail to succeed in the mission in the way they should. Smaller groups provide for open thinking, but a more narrow mind set on the mission. This way they can complete tasks on a steady incline, and continue to build off of each other’s work.

  21. Trey Carson says:

    The LockheedMartin SkunkWorks works because they use the theory that smaller groups work better. This is because communication is more efficient and allows for the group to be more active in collaboration. Previously there was too much communication but now with smaller teams, management is able to delegate and trust the smaller teams, then they bring the information to you. The article makes it important to note that, it’s not just that people are working in smaller groups, but a goal must be measured for their success and they have to have the right people in the group as well. This is a big focus of what makes SkunkWorks so important, but also because this innovation is possible with the right people. Smaller groups have everyone pulling their own weight and allow for each member to take control of their own specific task while contributing to the group. A huge theme with all the companies mentioned was their ability to be agile once they allowed for smaller teams to form. Along with that, smaller teams create a more focused vision where everyone can learn their task.

  22. Caitlyn Bowles says:

    The article “Smart Innovators Value Smaller Teams over Better Processes” by Michael Schrage directly relates to the organizational behavior of a company. The article emphasizes the importance of having small teams working towards a goal within a company. Many mangers assign large groups to initiatives, but companies such as Facebook and Apple have proved that smaller teams can produce better work in the long run. Companies that invest time and effort in creating processes and cultures of team enablers have been able to make strides in their industries. After working in teams of multiple sizes, I have found that when working in teams of 3-5, the best work can be produced. Oftentimes when work is spread out among too many people, processes lack consistency and tend to stray away from the end goal of the effort. I believe that in the workplace many personalities can come out that may be overwhelming for a team. By sticking to a small number, it is easier for team members to share ideas in an inclusive environment.

  23. Haley Daughton says:

    The approach that Lockheed-Martin Skunk Works and many other organizations are now utilizing for innovation is the “smaller is beautiful” method. This idea supports the fact that more innovation and higher quality deliverables are derived from smaller groups of people. The article puts it as transitioning from football and soccer, teams of 11, to basketball, teams of 5. The priority of many organizations has transformed from making the innovation process more efficient for the small teams rather than making the team efficient for the innovation process. The so-called “exploitive” strategy that is becoming extremely popular because the smaller groups of people can work together more cohesively and effectively rather than groups of 70 plus working on an innovation project. The use of smaller teams also frees us management’s responsibility of micromanaging the larger more grueling innovation teams that required much more supervision. Management tries to keep teams so small that they even deny adn set aside talent rather they bring people in as needed for their skills. This allows for incremental growth of the innovation team rather than exponential which usually occurs when deadlines are approaching. The slower the growth of the innovation team, the more successful the organization will be in the long run. The more personal and connected a tight knit group of innovators is the more prosperous they will be.

  24. Courtney McCool says:

    The Lockheed Martin Skunk Works works because they value smaller teams. The idea behind it is to give more responsibilities to a smaller team. The innovation mindset of “smaller is beautiful” works because smaller teams allow for things to be done faster. The innovation teams work hard to stay small. They do this by using different digital and social media platforms to extend their reach. The use of technology minimizes the need to add more people to the team. To be innovative, the key is to slowly grow. Fast-growing innovation teams are not good and show that the wrong people were hired. The small teams grow in power and influence. Smaller teams feel they can get much more done than larger teams. Working in a small team provides easier communication across the members. A smaller team dynamic also allows the members to work more efficiently and build trust in one another. With technology continuously advancing, working in smaller teams is possible and efficient.

  25. Liam Maginnis says:

    A very difficult question to answer when creating a team is how big should the team be to be most effective. It may seem like an easy answer to say that the more brains or hands tackling a problem, the more efficient the work will be. While this can be true, it is also true that having too many brains or hands on a project can hurt the people getting the most work done. One example of this is how some large companies can become so complex with the layers of workers, you will have many workers working on a project while at the exact same time their boss, and that bosses boss are also all working on the project. All the different groups have different ideas of how to get the job done and all the different groups have different levels of pressure hanging onto the project. What Lockheed-Martin did was they made groups working on projects as small as they could be while still being efficient. They also made sure that the pressure to get the project done correctly was equal all around, with each team member wanting to achieve the end goal every member of the team became a leader.

  26. Michael Baiter says:

    Really informative article on how smaller teams are faster and more agile in making innovation decisions. At first, I had thought that a company would want as many people as possible in innovation meetings so that you could get more ideas in and with that find the best idea. But after reading the article I can see how companies like apple want fewer people in each team so that the smaller teams will allow for better communication as well as the ability for someone to step up and be a leader.

    Also, in the article when they talk about slow growth is key indicator in success is interesting from the outside looking in I always think like the iPhone idea came up and instantly they were onto the iPhone but reading this now and seeing companies take a slow approach shows how important each detail is for them as they make sure everything is 100 percent and they take a step by step approach.

    The biggest advantage with having small groups for innovation because it allows everyone to have a voice and have more productive open conversation. In the future if I ever am in a position to make decisions on group sizes I will certainly lean towards smaller groups.

  27. Devin Miles says:

    Kelly Johnson’s Lockheed Martin SkunkWorks has proven to be efficient because it challenges the concept that companies need larger innovation groups in order to be successful. These smaller groups of about 5 instead of 10 or 12 allow idea to flow more freely since they so not have to be visited by twice as many people in the group. They have focused on leaning how to successfully manage these teams taking the emphasis from “how do we successfully scale the team?” to “how do we successfully scale the team’s influence and deliverables?”. By shifting the focus on production rather than employee increments, they are looking for production from every employee and not just treating them like a number. Another notable effect from this idea is how to measure. Normally, growth would mean success, however, growth in these innovation groups also means adding people because the other ones are failing to produce in a given assignment or project. The SkunkWorks has proven to be effective and turns the traditional way of thinking of, “bigger is better” on it head to focus more in the efficiency side and, “going small to get big”.

  28. Madeline Allard says:

    In this article for the Harvard Business Review, author Michael Schrage describes a new trend he is seeing in team-building, in particular in innovation teams: small groups. Instead of the traditional innovation structures we have seen in the past where 70+ people will work to solve a problem, teams now are consisting of anywhere as small as 7 or 8 employees. In the example of Skunk Works, the lab teams developing drugs can range from 8 to 60, which allows them to be agile. A small team can make decisions quickly and doesn’t have to please so many people to get a majority vote. They can also get to know each other more personally and develop more consistent work dynamics. Technology helps too. But this doesn’t mean that small teams have no drawbacks. Some small teams warp the purpose of work, where their innovation is served by the enterprise instead of their innovation serving others. Or, they become such an exclusive unit that those they collaborate with “aren’t treated as teammates, but as support for the hardcore.” This sort of elitism will only hurt the company. Instead, when team-building shoot for agility and cohesiveness, but still keep a good eye out for culture fits. And when you are expanding, make sure it is for the right reasons and not just because the wrong people were hired in the first place or because the “wrong challenge was picked.”

  29. Victoria Corte-Real says:

    Working in teams is something that has been emphasized and implemented in almost every workplace in America. The Lockheed-Martin Skunk Works is the idea that smaller groups are way more efficient and effective than working in a much larger group. It has been a new focus for “the organizational priority [to make] innovation processes and culture subservient to the small teams rather than making small teams serve the innovation process.” When you have a smaller team it is easier to have one focus or the same goals. When a group gets larger, like to 70+ people it’s harder to keep everyone focused on one common goal or accomplishment. It also seems that people are now looking to have only a handful of highly productive and innovative people, instead of a really big team with only one-third of them producing great ideas. When a larger team exists there is more room for people to slack, fall behind and interfere with the innovation process, whereas, if the team is “lean and mean,” their efforts can just be towards producing good work because the accountability is there. This approach has obviously seen success in many organizations like Facebook, I am intrigued to see if this trend continues and the productivity it creates.

  30. Margaret Higgins says:

    Large organizations are looking to become smaller and are creating their own problems all at the same time. Major tech companies are breaking down into smaller groups to become more productive on projects but, is that hurting the health of the company? Some would argue yes, teams competing against each other to gain the attention of the C Suite can be both good and bad. Finding the perfect balance for your company is incredibly challenging and can take a long time to figure out what is best for you. One of the most interesting things the article mentions in my opinion is that companies are turning away incredible talent because of how they want to structure their teams. Although I can see why they would do this I cannot understand how a company would expect to innovate without new people and new opinions. By adding new people to a team they bring their own life experiences that are different from those of the members who are currently on the team. This is a big question to figure out and I think that trial and error is one of the only ways that companies can find their perfect balance.

  31. As companies transition from large teams to smaller groups, we will increasingly see more efficient work and less specialized roles. When companies have large groups of workers it creates unnecessary competition with in the company. Additionally, this hurts company culture and overall employees are not as close with their coworkers, which hurts team unison. The article mentions what slow and fast growth should look like for a team. Slow growth for a smaller team is actually desired, because it means that the team is growing and succeeding successfully as a unit. While, fast growth often means that a team is not succeeding to the desired level causing them to hire newer employees to make up for this, which can further disrupt growth. While, smaller teams are definitely beneficial it can create stress for certain members of the team if a coworker cannot complete a task. With these larger companies moving to smaller teams, it is definitely smart to continually check in on employees mental health, while additionally analyzing success levels of these smaller groups. Finally, I would advise centering these smaller groups in environments that can maximize success and interaction.

  32. Isabella Lay says:

    Having never heard of the idea that smaller teams work more effectively than larger ones, I was skeptical about the direction their article begins to go in on its stance on that issue. In class, we typically work in small teams of 3-4 people, but I had always thought that to get the most out of your work, it would help to have more helping hands. Some of the largest companies in the world of made up of hundreds of thousands of employees, so wouldn’t that mean larger teams are best? This article reminds its readers that its’ not about how much work gets done but the quality of it. In smaller teams, workers can benefit from being able to brainstorm ideas without enabling the possibility of overshadowing one another. Small teams can also remain focused on specific tasks while larger teams are forced to take on board topics. Facebook, Google, and Apple, attribute a lot of their success to the implication of small teams. While I do see the appeal for sticking to that one specific side, I believe that having a combination of large and small teams will lead to the most effective outcome. Like in a company, a large team takes the title of a “department”. There can be a marketing department, a human resources department, etc. Then, within those departments, small teams can be created to focus specifically on the most important needs of each “large group” or “department”. In this way, the company can reap the benefits of both teams and come together focused to take on each task.

  33. Ben Nardi says:

    Lockheed Martin Skunk works because they see the value in promoting the success of a tight knit small group rather than a large group with less specialized or specific roles. The article promotes how smaller groups are better for these companies for a variety of reasons. One being that making the team smaller makes the innovation process more efficient. If you look to strictly make the innovation process more efficient, it often affects the success of the team. The smaller teams also lessen competition, making workers often less stressed and produce more quality work rather than rushing through it to try and “beat” someone else. Having groups the size of a starting 5 on a basketball team rather than 11 of a football team, lets ideas be able to be bounced off people and thought more thoroughly, rather than having to go through 10+ people where the ideas often lose authenticity and become redundant. Less is more in the concept of this article. And although it sounds counterintuitive, slow growth is good growth because it proves how the team is working successfully and in unison with one another and not rushing through the innovation process. All in all, this works because people work better when they are, not overwhelmed by too many people, are able to work in their own space and a reasonable pace, and finally when they are surrounded by a few people with whom they trust and each specialize in a specific area where they can all offer small tidbits of information to help better the overall innovation process for everyone.

  34. Jack Murray says:

    I have experienced first-hand why the methodology behind Skunk Works works. This summer, I had the opportunity to intern in the audit and assurance branch of a big four accounting firm. I got the opportunity to work on a fiscal year-end “busy season” audit. The client I worked on was one of the largest banks in the world, and there were dozens of people on the engagement team. The engagement team was split into several smaller engagement teams, each focusing on a different branch of the bank. Within my engagement team, we had sub-teams focused on either investments, loans, or grants. I worked primarily on the investments team. What I realized from my virtual internship was that the smaller the teams, the more productive meetings were. On Tuesday mornings, about 25 of us would meet for an hour and go over general things to stay up to date on regarding the audit. Right after the meeting, the sub-team I worked on consisting of 4 people met for 15 minutes and was twice as productive in those 15 minutes than the group of 25 was in the 60-minute meeting. This is because our brains are stimulated when we absorb information that directly relates to us. The higher the brain stimulation, the more productive we can be.

  35. Mary Kate Shields says:

    This article brings to light a very strong point which we should start to strongly consider in today’s business world: larger does not necessarily mean better. Smaller can be stronger, faster, and even more innovative. I appreciated how the author emphasized that smaller organizations especially have a knack for innovative team culture. In many of today’s business organizations, this is a concept with which we are all somewhat familiar with. However, it seems to be quickly emerging as a necessary step to success. Another advantage of smaller-scale organizations, and one that has allowed for Skunk Works to thrive, is the focus of smaller, niche-focused groups within a larger organization. This sub-divide of groups allowed for them to “serve the innovation process” which ultimately worked in their favor.

  36. Sam Ponticiello says:

    The article by Michael Schrage discusses how organizations are utilizing small teams rather than large ones in an attempt to stimulate innovation. At first one may question this approach. I personally question: doesn’t it make most sense to have as many brains as possible in the room focused on the task? Michael explains that teams are going from football style to basketball style for many reasons. One of these being the tendency for larger teams to over-power the task. In smaller teams there are clear and concise positions. Most effective teams have positions such as a leader who can mediate and assign tasks to peers. Having known positions is very important because if a member does not know their task they will not be able to innovate. Smaller teams with distinct positions also seem to have more solidarity and are more efficient at delivering a product. As taught in MGT 311 “I am my brother’s keeper” relates to team members holding each other accountable which in turn creates a better product. The concept of smaller teams is fairly new in the business world and it will be interesting to see if they are more efficient than historic larger teams.

  37. Allie Anderson says:

    The article immediately reminded me of Jeff Bezos’s 2 Pizza rule, where teams are seen as more efficient when they’re smaller. They are able to communicate better, and don’t take more than two pizzas to feed. Smaller-scale teams have to ability to make quicker decisions and focus on what’s really important to get the job done. Even in large organizations, small teams support one another. I found it interesting when the article noted the key performance indicator is slow growth. It means that the individuals are carefully selected so they can produce the best results. The phrase “going small to get big” got me to reflect on organizations I’ve been a part of. Truthfully, the smaller the team was, I found highly qualified individuals, sometimes even experts, that were able to make precise decisions. The use of small teams in all types of organizations is a good model because it creates an environment where there are better work relationships. Individuals are held to a higher standard when they’re accountable, rather than getting lost in a big group with lower levels of accountability.

  38. Tommy Antonucci says:

    In the corporate world today, organizations and companies have started to turn toward smaller, tight-knit groups of people in order to complete tasks and solve problems compared to groups with more people. More often than not, people would think that the more brains and the more flow and ideas in the room would allow for better problem-solving and productivity to complete tasks and achieve goals. Yet this article does a great job of emphasizing how smaller groups are more valuable in this aspect. This is seen with the LockheedMartin Skunk Works and how they use small groups in order to be more innovative and efficient. The article highlights many reasons as to why small teams are great for these organizations, starting with the fact that having smaller teams makes these teams enablers. The smaller teams make for less competition, more collaboration, and more internal motivation to not only succeed with a big task on your part, but also on behalf of the team as well. Furthermore, in these smaller teams, it becomes much easier to establish roles, rules, and workflow. With less people, you can spend less time worrying about these things once established and more time focused on the task at hand. These traits of smaller teams allow for less people to do more in the end and even though it could take time for growth due to the fact that there are less people, these people will have more of a focus on their role for the task due to the amount that they will have to be doing. It allows for slow, strong growth as it goes and employees will feel more comfortable and confident in their work if trusted with more to do.

  39. Brian Reinhart says:

    One might think that more minds behind a project results in that project being done better than with fewer minds. However, the article and the managers of Skunk Works promote the idea of keeping teams smaller for longer. Keeping teams smaller and only increasing in size gradually allows for greater focus among the people in the group and greater opportunity for discussion about solutions. It is interesting how the article mentions that new and innovative technology also promotes smaller teams because of the teams ability to make use of that technology and minimize the people that need to be added to the team.
    I suppose that the problem for maintaining the focus of a large group stems from the idea of social loafing, in which a person in a large group is less inclined to put forth good effort and contribute to a project. While I think this partially depends on company culture and the task at hand, it is important that everyone on the team knows their defined role and its responsibilities. When someone in a group is unclear of their role or completely left out of task delegation, this almost promotes social loafing and is a clear indication of a team being too large for a specific project. So my takeaway is that a team needs to be large enough to efficiently and effectively achieve group objectives, but not too large to the point that some people do not have the capacity to contribute anything notable.

  40. Alex Rosa says:

    Collaboration is key to having a group’s members create a product or service that is both efficient and above what can be done at the individual level. Because of this, somebody might assume that the bigger the team, the more thinkers in one room, the more ideas can be brought together, and the outcome will be extraordinary. As the old saying goes, however, too many cooks can spoil the pot. The Lockheed Martin Skunk system advocates for the idea that a handful of collaborative thinkers who work “very hard and very small” (Michael Strange). By narrowing in on individuals’ influences and deliverables, a team can grow their results without necessarily having to increase the number of people in their organization. The heavy reliance on having individuals that benefit one another is important so that they can raise the group’s efficiency. While the Martin Skunk system illustrates that a basketball team of five may be better coordinated than a football team of eleven, there needs to be an understanding that the individual impact of the basketball player is going to have a bigger role and impact on the team’s performance. This is because a basketball player is 20% of the team, whereas the football player is 9%.

  41. Katrina Auza says:

    Michael Schrage’s article raises a great point on how more companies are focusing on creating core teams as a priority rather than better processes. Dividing the work among smaller teams is a means of creating better engagement and productivity among workers. Last summer, I worked at an internship that followed this type of plan. Working in the HR department, I was grouped with 3 other interns to focus on certain projects for the company. We were able to work closely with each other to make decisions for onboarding processes. I found it easier to communicate with my group and divide tasks amongst each other. After doing the work, we would meet up with our director and the other group to present what we have done so far and how we will move forward form there. I find it easier to work in smaller groups rather than bigger teams. Sometimes bigger teams can become hectic and all over the place. Teamwork seems to be better when the groups are smaller. It is also easier to keep in touch with a small group. Because of this, the collaboration and innovation increases. People can gain support from their team and understand each other better.

  42. Juan Diego Morales says:

    The author of this article makes an excellent point regarding smaller teams. Small teams tend to be much more efficient than big teams. However, I think something important to mention is that one shouldn’t try to have the smallest team possible all the time. What I mean by this is that, depending on the job or task at hand, you may need more or less people on the team to make it more effective. In other words, there is a right number of people that could most efficiently accomplish a task. So one should beware of making a team smaller than what the task demands.
    I’ve found that when teams are bigger than what they need to be, it is very easy to get distracted, and the division of tasks is always difficult. When there are many people on a team, it is more likely that some of the members will be a burden for the team and will not work hard to accomplish their tasks. With smaller teams, however, it tends to be the opposite. It is much easier to assign tasks, help each other out, and be accountable to one’s teammates when the team is the right size.

  43. Leoul Mulugeta says:

    Michael Schrage’s article brought up a point that I wholeheartedly agree with. The trend of smaller teams is an idea that should keep being implemented in the business world now and in the future. While there are situations where larger teams are preferred, In most cases, smaller teams are the solution. Working in a smaller team provides more efficient work because being a part of a small, tight-knit group gives you the trust to let everyone else to work on their assignments and for you to simply focus on your own work. There is also a right and a wrong way to implement teams within an organization. A common problem, especially in large organizations, is the neglect of these smaller teams because of how many of them there are. This ultimately leads to an increase in team size when it isn’t needed. Schrage also mentions another problem where organizations have started to lose focus on the team itself and more on the deliverables they provide. Implementing teams has to be done the right way, or there will be a lack of focus and efficiency. The proper way to do, as Schrage says, is “going small to get big.” The team must grow slowly and appropriately with the results of innovation that they provide.

  44. Brendan Martin says:

    Lockheed Martin Skunk works because in companies and organizations today, they are heading towards small, tighter groups of people to solve problems in a more organized/ quicker way. In the article it emphasizes how smaller groups are better for companies for many reasons however some may think more people the better; that is not the case. One of the reasons why smaller groups are better for companies is because it can make things easier and more efficient to complete tasks. The smaller the group the less stressful it is for others and it can also eliminate competition between the group which will relieve stress. To conclude, Lockheed Martin Skunk works because people work better in smaller groups as it is more efficient and less stressful for people within the team. Tasks seem to be completed quicker which leads to more successful work to be done.

  45. Brittany Connatser says:

    Lockheed Martin works because smaller team sizes encourage innovation, increase velocity, and increase focus. The sizes of teams in a corporate environment are crucial and they can range in the number of members depending on the size of the company. Technology has a big impact on creating a good team because the more improvement in technology it minimizes the need to add more team members. The number of milestones a focused team can accomplish is almost limitless. Many companies like Facebook and Google encourage this strategy because it has been shown to be very effective. Top-tier management is typically more resistant to let the great innovations of these teams grow exponentially so they typically keep the teams working hard to stay small. Team leaders and top-tier management focus on how to scale the team’s influence and deliverables. I disagree with this perspective because even though the team’s power will increase, they will still need a leader to steer them in the right direction. I think when one team has shown that they are able to deliver impressive results it encourages other people to be on that standard or surpass it and yield amazing results. I think the top-tier management could feel threatened, but it is up to them to rise to the occasion with the team or to be replaced.

  46. Catalina DeMassi says:

    Schrage talks a lot about team size and how smaller teams often produce higher results than larger teams with more people. I definitely agree with this idea. In a large group setting, most people’s ideas are not heard; it is often a few loud people in the room who are able to get their points across while everyone else sits there nodding graciously. In smaller teams there is a lot more room for other people’s ideas. Everyone has the opportunity to voice their opinion because it is such a small setting. This strategy may work for brainstorming sessions and strategy meetings, but when there is a lot of work to be done, larger teams are often necessary to support the goal. If you are providing security to a concert and only have 5 security officers versus the usual 20, then there is likely to be an issue; however if 20 people are in a strategy meeting, it might be more prudent to select 5 to continue brainstorming while the rest of the group moves forward with other tasks or assignments. Group size is important to a business, but there is no clear cut answer for what is always best; it is often based on circumstances and what the goal of the job at hand is.

  47. Jack Micco says:

    Lockheed Martin Skunk Works and many other large companies around the world have started to trend towards smaller and more tight-knit teams rather than larger ones. In the past, organizations delegated larger teams to various tasks thinking that more minds would generate greater success. Recently, larger organizations are creating smaller teams and giving them greater responsibility and more resources to solve problems and create initiative. GlaxoSmithKline, a large pharmaceutical company, “is betting that smaller size assures faster velocity and greater agility for innovation decision.” The idea is that smaller teams will have better communication and smaller, yet more powerful ideas that will get the job done faster and more complete. Lockheed Martin provides examples about how organizations tend to make teams bigger when deadlines are approaching in saying “team sizes relentlessly drift upward. A nucleus of seven can easily leap an order of magnitude to 70+ within six months if certain milestones are hit. That’s bad.” In the process of making teams smaller and more effective, the emphasis has shifted to scaling teams influences rather than simply scaling the team. Slow growth in this trend toward smaller teams is extremely important because it assures that the right people are chosen, and the right initiatives are sought. Overall, the trend toward smaller teams is impactful and helps production in large organizations through slow growth and decisiveness.

  48. Sean Gould says:

    This article presented the fact that bigger teams may not always be the right answer. Instead, sometimes it’s beneficial to have a small team. More companies have started to integrate into smaller teams due to technology and innovation throughout the last decade. Smaller teams will allow for a better understanding of team weaknesses and strengths. Many believe that smaller teams increase productivity and problem solving more than a larger group. This is because in small teams there is less competition within the team and instead you feel more responsible to pull through on your part for your team. An example of this is the Skunk Works at Lockheed Martin, where they used smaller teams to increase efficiency and started to motivate workers to become enablers. This allowed for the workforce to work more efficiently when it came to workflow. Another example we talked about in class is the 2 pizza rule. I feel it carries the same idea as this article. I believe we will continue to see the use of small teams in companies to help establish more innovation.

  49. Kevin Crowley says:

    This article does a great job of explaining the differences between large and small teams, along with the effectiveness they both have. The article challenges organizations to reflect on themselves and determine if they can successfully scale the team’s influence and deliverables. The author talks about how innovative technology is becoming more useful in the workplace which causes the need for large amounts of people on a team to decrease. In today’s quick-moving day in age, I believe that assembling the right people in a small team is more effective than a large team of dysfunctional people. In a small team, trust and cohesion are higher and the overall team dynamics are better. The use of small teams in businesses is growing because of the success that has been yielded from doing so. This article has given me a new perspective on team sizes and effectiveness, as now I think a lot of corporate America needs to experiment with smaller teams to see how it goes.

  50. Ben Bono says:

    One main thing to take away for this article is how smaller teams work. Smaller teams consist of less people. As we can see this is actually a better thing for numerous of reasons. The first reason is that the team members are able to get closer to each other and know each other better. This would allow for better communication in the work place. When working to solves a problem, communication is key. Second, smaller teams allow for a goal to be clearer and easily articulated with people. This means that the team would be able to easily focus on the goal that they are trying to achieve.

    One thing that it is important for a larger company that uses smaller teams is that they need to make sure that they are working in sync. If you look at an analogy of an orchestra, the teams are members of the orchestra playing the instruments, as management is like the conductor. These teams need to work in harmony to accomplish a goal to keep the company running smoothly. It is imperative that they work like this or else it will de-rail the train off the tracks, and the company would not be able to accomplish its goals.

  51. Henry Mazariegos says:

    Smaller versus faster. On the surface, one would think that a larger team would be more capable of getting more done than a smaller one, but the opposite is true when it comes to innovation. When teams are too large several issues arise. Company culture and camaraderie are lost as people become more distant due to the number of people involved in certain tasks. For a large team to be successful, each member must implement a process to work in unison. This may be good in a production line but it leaves room for no innovation to occur at all. Small teams focus on a goal and set out for themselves, what is the best way for them to achieve it. In large teams, a sense of competition comes about much easier, on smaller teams, each member is completely reliant on one another to complete the task. Another advantage that a small team has over a big team is that they are more agile as the article states. This is because they can come to decisions much quicker as consensus is made among a smaller group of people. Small teams seem to be the path forward for companies looking to excel in innovation in the future.

  52. Joseph Ferraro says:

    Smaller teams being more productive is counter intuitive to the common eye, but as you look into it more, it makes a lot of sense. I am sure all of us have been in a large group and experienced too many opinions going around. This makes it absolutely impossible to get anything done and can be very frustrating. Another issue I have experienced with larger teams is a sense of not being a part of something. Once you’re on a small team, it feels like you truly are part of something. As a result of this, the movement to only smaller teams makes complete sense to me.
    In the current world we live in, we can get any information we need in the blink of an eye. One person can do the same amount of work as ten people could twenty years ago. Which is why, when I read that managers deny highly qualified individuals to maintain a small team it made complete sense. Just because someone is highly qualified, does not mean you want to risk adding unneeded opinions to a group. Once you have that small group, you can pivot from focusing on finding the right team size, to finding how that team can serve the company.

  53. Spencer Stapleton says:

    This article makes a few very good and interesting points about teams and innovation. The main take away i got from this article is that the bigger the team does not make for better innovation, it is actually the opposite in most cases. This is a very interesting topic because when most people think of innovation they would think that having more people, more minds, would lead to more and better ideas. but companies are seeing that having a smaller and more intelligent team actually delivers those results they’re looking for. For many of these companies they are turning away top talent in order to keep the innovation team small which just goes to show the lengths they are willing to go for the team. When companies focus on smaller teams they need to make sure the teams morale and the teams are working in tangent to achieve their goals.

  54. Gracie Burford says:

    This article does a good job illustrating the shift in popularity from large teams to small teams in an organizational structure. Many would think that having large teams of people tasked with accomplishing a goal would lead to faster success, but small teams work just as well, if not better. With small teams, the focus is on the chemistry of the unit. If a manager can create an environment where a small team is able to get to know each other, build relationships, build trust, and learn how the other members work and operate, then a manager is going to have a high functioning team in his organization.

    As companies have started shifting to smaller teams, they’ve seen the impact that they can make. The article makes a point that in these small, successful teams employers are turning away better candidates because of how the team is operating as is. This highlights that a team can be the best without having one member that is the best among others. This is because individual talent means nothing without a cohesive team. A small team that works well together and uses each other’s strengths to the team’s advantage will always be more successful than a poorly managed team with better individual members.

  55. Maysen Elliott says:

    I think that this article described the necessity of what at team need to be. Teams can be many different sizes and have many different purposes. This leads to their overall success as a team. While this reminded me of the “two pizza” rule that Jeff Bezos proposed for his team size, I think that larger teams are necessary for certain tasks. Knowing how to distribute people into different tasks based on the tasks is a very well-thought-out business move. This is what can lead to overall company success. As long as the small teams are not too small that they need to sacrifice quality and are drowning in work, and the large teams are not too large that there are too many cooks in the kitchen, and work isn’t able to be equally distributed, teams should be able to handle anything thrown their way. This will also increase the confidence of the team and bring them closer together in the quality of their work. I think that in the article we had to read, it describes that this is one of the reasons why the Lockheed Martin Work works. So much unique and proper things were done in their situation.

  56. Nicholas Diehl says:

    Michael Schrage does an excellent job of highlighting the advantages of smaller teams focusing on innovation. He highlights how many large organizations can become overwhelmed with how many teams they are managing which leads to team sizes increasing. This leads to teams that are far less productive because of how many people are crowding the innovative process. The team at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works is a prime showcase of the success that can be seen by a slow growing team in an organization. In “Kelly’s 14 rules”, the regulations for Skunk Works by founder Kelly Johnson, rule three states the regulations for how many are connected to a project should be limited in an almost cruel manner. By letting the team grow slowly with its success Lockheed Martin passes on the same innovative processes to new members. This results in a very close-knit team oriented on the same objectives with amazing productivity. Lockheed Martin still aligns with the theory discussed by Schrage where limited people are connected to the main team due to innovative technology. Slow growing small teams have many advantages in successful innovation and longevity. Lockheed Martin Skunk Works has been innovating for seventy-five years with their strategy, and many more companies are starting to jump on board.

  57. Chance Legere says:

    The article shows us how smaller groups are better for these companies for various reasons. Helping display how the Lockheed Martin skunk works. Facebook’s Zuckerberg is a big supporter of small teams and something who has obviously benefitted by this strategy of having smaller teams. Google super-charged its innovation engine by encouraging individuals and smaller groups to innovate hard. Apple’s Steve Jobs was notorious for insisting that focused innovation required focused teams. All these companies focus on the aspect of extreme focus and innovation through smaller, more detail-oriented, and successful teams. Smaller teams allow for less competition, the innovation process becomes more efficient, and ideas stay authentic and do not become redundant or off their original track. Less is more in all aspects of this article. Smaller teams also allow for workers to not become overwhelmed by multiple assistants and bosses constantly lurking waiting for mistakes to be made. I personally believe smaller teams allow for more freedom and better connections on the team as it is smaller it allows for ideas to spread and be discussed much quicker. All these factors show how the Lockheed Martin skunk works and why smaller teams are more beneficial for companies all across the United States in particular.

  58. Luke Bakke says:

    This is an insightful comment because I would argue that there is a deep flaw in the creative mind of the day. I would say this through the world we see in Hollywood. Though far from the reality that we see in suburban America and Smalltown USA, we can notice there is a lacking success in the movie industry. The biggest blockbusters of each year is based from a comic written in the 1900’s or a novel written at least 10 years ago. This is because there are big name directors and actors that make the movies, who have been influenced by the industry for at least 10 years. They produce movies that feel reused and unoriginal. If they chose to let the people on the bottom pick the plots, story lines, and characters, while directing their own artistic views into the mix, they would have more success. This can be seen in business because on the ground level, there are many people who see the ins and outs of the business, who can contribute a great deal to a business. Once there is more power given to the lower levels, you will see tremendous growth in the business world as a whole.

  59. Jack Kouba says:

    LockheedMartin Skunk Works works because the implementation of smaller teams is more efficient. When a team is composed of a team leader and 5 or 6 role members that each have a clear cut responsibility, then the efficiency of the team will be much higher than if there is a team leader with 60 role members that collaborate on similar jobs. According to the article, organizations across the globe are beginning to build smaller teams due to their high efficiency. The large teams of the past are no longer the norm in the modern world. Some other advantages that incentivizes organizations to build smaller teams include agility and impact. Smaller teams are more agile than bigger teams for obvious reasons. The smaller the team the easier it is for the entire team to rotate objectives. Smaller teams have a higher impact because when a team is composed of smaller numbers than each member takes on more responsibility which leads to a higher impact on the assignment per person. Smaller teams are also more able to specialize on certain roles, leading to more consistency within a project, as opposed to a larger team where there may be a disconnect between several different pieces.

  60. Pat Buckley says:

    As the business world evolves, companies see the value in working with smaller teams as opposed to larger teams. Smaller teams work more efficiently than larger teams as these teams are able to transfer communication quickly, with less signal loss due to this direct communication. When working with smaller teams, members have more influence over the work in these projects leading to more fluent projects, in contrast to larger teams where many members could have different perspectives on the same situation. Smaller teams are also more effective as they are easier to manage. Responsibilities can easily be given out, and it is easy to see if a member does not fulfill their duties. In a smaller team, it is also more inviting for team members to express ideas. In teams where there are members of more than twenty, members who are more timid may hesitate to share their ideas due to the large number of members. Finally, a benefit of working in smaller teams is that it is much easier to designate roles. When working with a large group of people, it is not very time-efficient to lay out roles for numerous people.

  61. Andrew Sipes says:

    I think this article is really important as to how we look at teams as a whole and their evolution over time. We have learned over the years that smaller teams tend to work better together instead of having more people on the same goals. It’s almost like the saying “too many chefs in the kitchen.” I feel this describes the situation perfectly. It talks about how if there’s too many people with different ideas and wants for how things should be done, there won’t really be anything getting done. Smaller groups build trust, leadership, and friendship through working on projects and assignments together. This way, you get workplace relationships between employees, and you get a culture that is centered around working together and not feeling overwhelmed.

  62. Meghan Dwyer says:

    Lockheed Martin works because as the article said “they work very hard to stay very small.” Today, so many companies are trying to expand their workforce, but that creates more havoc, as more work is needed to satisfy the teams. When teams are smaller, it makes decision making a whole lot easier, as there are less people that will argue or reject ideas. Having smaller teams also allows for them to take on larger projects, and experience more than they would have in a bigger team. Staying with smaller teams allows employees to have the freedom to work on more of the working parts of a project, instead of working in one specific area. Contributing in more than one way can help workers gain a sense of confidence, as it does not limit what they are allowed to do. Their contributions to other areas can prove to be vital in finishing a project, and having less people in a team can work out in your favor.

  63. Sean Baudo says:

    It is becoming more and more popular in organizations to utilize small teams to complete projects. Some of the largest tech and pharmaceutical companies are implementing this strategy to give teams the ability to react more quickly when it comes to the important decision making process. If there is a large group, there is to many people trying to input their own variation of a solution. With less people, it is easier and quicker to hear everyone out and come to a reasonable decision. Management thinks about the value added proposition per team member added. They realize that at a certain inflection point, the value added begins to decrease and become a negative. However, on the other hand, management must not leave the teams to be understaffed. In innovative tech companies especially, product offerings are always changing and becoming more complex. If the team is too small, they can be overwhelmed with the demands of management and consumers. It is up to management to decide if adding more members to the team will help or hurt in the development of the project.

  64. Austin Haggerty says:

    I believe that the reason that the LockheedMartin Skunk Works system works is that it takes a lot of time and resources to assemble a large scale team, get all the materials for everyone to work together, and then coordinate all of those people into one united effort. Teams in small scales can easily communicate with each other to keep them efficient as well as work almost in sync with each other to maximize efficiency. Teams that are too big can make employees feel alone and as if they are a small part of the team. Smaller teams encourage collaboration and like Jeff Bezos said, if a team meeting can’t be fed with just two pizzas, the group is too big. Communication is a crucial aspect of success in organizations and when there are too many people within the organization, communication can get lost and steps can sometimes get missed. I think that companies are beginning to focus on how to “scale their influence” as opposed to just scaling their teams and companies. Success is getting found when companies maintain a focus on their mission and not just scaling their company for profits, the profits will come in time if you can achieve that successfully.

  65. Jack Dolan says:

    Lockheed Martin’s team strategy works not only because tech giants like Facebook and Google use it to be successful, but because it makes sense logically. In the past, companies would assign major projects to big groups to give everyone a fair and manageable workload. It makes sense at first thought, however, there is a major culture disconnect because with massive groups everyone doesn’t know everyone and it creates a less productive meeting environment as well as fewer ideas flowing around the room. With large groups like 60 people, it is hard for everyone to be comfortable sharing bold ideas to the entire group. For that reason, Lockheed Martin’s method works best. When teams are split into smaller groups, like 5-12, they are more likely to have a closer bond and be able to have healthy arguments and banter. They would speak up and give each other more constructive criticism and throw in more ideas while being comfortable voicing their opinion when they think something is a bad idea. These smaller group sizes result in a much more successful and productive project. Even though not all companies will adopt the Lockheed Martin method, it is something to consider moving towards for many companies looking to succeed.

  66. Jack McGorry says:

    This article reminds me of the video we watched about Jeff Bezos. Jeff Bezos is the CEO of Amazon in the video he talks about meeting in small groups to achieve goals. The rule he had that was 2 pizzas should be able to feed everyone in your team. This idea is similar to the article in the fact that you need small teams in order for large organizations to be successful and run smoothly. For example in large business’ you break up the work into teams so that its is easier to focus on individual things rather than a much large thing that could make you feel you are swarmed with work.

  67. Tucker Alch says:

    This article was very insightful into how small teams can function equal to or better than larger teams. The example about Lockheed Martin was a perfect way to support this idea. They talked about how smaller teams instill more trust in each other and raises the commitment level from each of the members. These are two key aspects of high functioning teams and can be much more easily produced in smaller teams. I like the example we talked about in class on Tuesday 11/9, Jeff Bezos’s two pizza rule. It stated how the largest team that anyone should have should be able to be fed by 2 pizzas. I think this was a clever way of showing what industry leading professionals view teams within organizations. Amazon is a multinational conglomerate that employs thousands of people and if the owner believes that 16 slices of pizza should feed the biggest team, that says a lot. I agree with this idea because having been apart of many teams in my life, there is no adequate substitute for a tight-knit group of team members. The trust and belief in one another is second to none and it usually results in success in many forms.

  68. Owen Shields says:

    In this article, Michael Schrage brings to attention the success of large corporations and companies who use the subdivision into smaller teams. Michael Schrage brings up companies like Apple, Facebook, and GlaxoSmithKline. Schrage points out that those companies are under the impression the focus of a small cohort is better than a laxed judgement from one giant portion of the company. Schrage said Steve Jobs was “notorious for insisting that focused innovation required focused teams. Linear-Technology is also a high-impact, small niche player in a capital-intensive industry that leverages the small exceptionally well.” Schrage also brings up how at Lockheed there was the mindset of “smaller is beautiful” and I truly feel that’s the main statement coming from this article. Schrage also states that teams can easily go from 7 to 70 within 6 months and his response to that, “that’s bad”. He also brings up the points of growth, if there is fast growth, there was too many or the wrong people hired, but slow growth shows the opposite. Proper amount of staffing and the right people were brought on. Schrager also talks about the larger corporations have many “silos” to coordinate and as a result it’s easy for those silos to dramatically increase in size. In the end, Schrager admits he doesn’t know if this properly defines large enterprise going forward, but he and I both agree in the fact smaller teams making up a larger corporation is the trend in the right direction.

  69. Zack Cosentino says:

    Smaller group projects are becoming more and more relevant in the small and large business scenes. I believe this is because it is far more easy and efficient for everybody on the team to provide input, with less people. Less people also makes it easier to take all opinions into consideration. A leader can hear all opinions on a decision, and act accordingly, which can’t really be done in a large group. This is why Lockheed Martin works so well. They work hard to keep it small. They strategically placed specific people in smaller groups to ensure that they can collaborate and achieve the goal at hand. Big groups tend to alienate people, and not everybody may want to or can express their opinions on the task at hand. Overall the smaller groups help the development of a task by taking in all necessary information from a smaller number of group members

  70. Sophia Zignego says:

    When it was written in 2011, the article by Michael Schrage accurately predicted the trend in tech innovation organizations. He noted that small and agile innovation teams with streamlined initiatives proved to be overwhelmingly successful compared to large groups with less defined goals. For innovation specifically, this small team setup is ideal, proving to be most effective. As Schrage remarked, management’s emphasis is no longer on how to grow the team successfully but instead on optimizing the team’s success and effectiveness. He cited Facebook and Google as two organizations that have embraced the small team mindset for streamlining innovation initiatives. In the last ten years, Facebook and Google are two companies that have excelled beyond all expectations while still following a small team model in their operations. These companies seem to be finding that as the technology evolves and innovation efforts prove to be successful, there is less of a need for a large team to perform so many operations. When the emphasis shifts from innovation to small groups, innovation becomes a bi-product of nurturing the small team model. Therefore, an organization as a whole then shifts its focus from innovation to establishing successful small teams. I would say that Shrage’s perception and anticipation of this innovative shift were completely correct and have been a critical component to the companies’ success.

  71. Julia Szmyt says:

    This type of teamwork is quite an interesting view on how innovation should be managed from this point forward. The only flaw I find with this mindset is that management will need to begin to understand the type of people they are hiring at a much greater level in order for this to work properly. If they hire people who don’t understand the company’s vision, or who struggle to mesh with other ways of thinking, then this will only create tension and misdirections among the company’s progress. This, of course, is a two way street which requires management to create well diversified teams that work together, and that they don’t feel the need to micromanage. This method works because people who are not in the C-Suite are just as capable of accomplishing great things as those who are paid the highest salaries. Innovation and a progressive way of thinking are attributes anyone is capable of possessing, they just need the opportunity to do so. This system allows people at any level to express that they have just as much potential and creativity as anyone else at the company. Speaking from an analytical perspective this method works because it creates a safe environment for people to have the power to express their ideas and innovation without the fear of failure, or needing to speak beyond their comfort level based on position level.

  72. Michael Yuschak says:

    This idea of using small teams to accomplish larger organizational goals is something that has only come to the forefront of the business world recently. The article listed many successful companies that have adopted and championed this such as Google, Facebook, and Apple. These are some of the world’s largest and most successful companies, so there must be something to this idea of smaller teams. These smaller teams tend to be more successful because of several factors. One of the biggest factors is trust. In a smaller team, it is easier to build trust among one another and this goes a long way when has to do with innovation. They trust each other’s opinions and thus create a strong understanding of one another. With these factors, they are more comfortable with presenting their ideas within the team. This willingness to share their new ideas is key for innovation. Without this, these companies would not be as nearly successful as they are now. These teams can then build upon these ideas and ultimately make an innovation that can make a real difference. This is something that may not happen when many people are working on a project as people may not be willing to share their ideas within a large group. This is why smaller teams nurture and create more innovation; and why so many companies are functioning this way now.

  73. matthew mcLaughlin says:

    The Lockheed Martin skunkworks is successful because they can use smaller groups to complete bigger innovation projects. Smaller teams call for more effective communication which results in greater understanding and efficiency across the board. With these small teams concentrating on big innovations there is no waste of brainpower that you would find with large teams. People in smaller teams can more easily trust each other which in return will enhance the team atmosphere. I will say that with the growing social media and technology calls for this type of corporate strategy trend which we are already seeing. Corporations want to be using every resource most efficiently and having small teams working big projects obviously is investing less for bigger returns. These companies will need to be more selective with their team and how they make sure individuals will be able to perform together. However, smaller groups have most likely made the hiring processes more selective so I’m confident they corporations will make sure they are picking individuals more than capable of the goals. Altogether, smaller teams improves communication, enhances trust, and increases productivity in comparison to big groups within innovation projects.

  74. Nicholas J Leyhan says:

    In large business corporations, the CEO has divided their company into different departments that handle different tasks. These departments are broken up into multiple sub branches comprised of many small teams. These teams work individually together to keep the corporation in full swing. For example, my older brother recently got a job at a local bank out of college in the corporate office. He is a part of the Online Banking Team that is made up of five individuals, including him, that work together to ensure there is no fraud being conducted through the accounts. Even though he is only directly working with four other people on a daily basis, he is also working alongside all of the branch managers to keep everything in order. He in turn reports to the manager of his department who then reports to his manager and so forth up the chain of command. This small group of people does not know the duties of the department that works next to them which keeps the company flowing. If he was to advance to another department, he would not go back to his previous department because they would replace him and even though it was his job that new person would be trained by a remaining member of the department and he would be trained by someone from his new department. This system can only work in a larger company because in a smaller company each department would be cross trained to know how to run the entire company. Is this a better system? The only answer is yes and no depending on if you are in a larger corporation or a small corporation/business.

  75. Nicholas Saldias says:

    TThe Lockheed Martin Skunk Works is a perfect example of how bigger is not always better. Much like Jeff Bezos’s two-pizza rule, working in smaller teams can be more efficient than working in larger teams. Although there are many benefits to working in smaller teams, there are also some negative aspects. In an example like Lockheed Martin, the projects have not gotten smaller, but the group working on them has. This puts a lot more responsibility on the individuals, which can create a lot of stress. And if the person is not a proper fit and can’t handle stress well, they tend to crumble under pressure causing harm to the completion of the project. So it is a managerial responsibility to find the right prospects for the job. It is almost like a jig-saw puzzle when working in small teams. Every piece plays a vital role in the overall completion of the puzzle, and without it would leave the puzzle unfinished. In my own experience, I have worked in a smaller team that works on a big project that used to have a much larger teamwork work on it. I have found that communication is much faster when working with a small group, and things tend to get completed more quickly when there are not as many opinions as there would be in a larger team.

  76. Sophy Blenkhorn says:

    Leaders, no matter what kind of setting, want to be able to be personable with their coworkers and be able to trust in their work. They want to rely on those around them and for the coworkers to know they can come to them with any new idea or contradicting thoughts. If someone has thoughts that disagree with the initial idea or tasks, they should be able to express how it can be more efficient and why they think they should adapt it.
    Small teams allow for leaders to interact with those around them more frequently and actually hear their thoughts, not just delegate without input. I agree with the two large pizza idea, meaning that a group of people should be able to be fed with two large pizzas and if not it is too big to work hand in hand. This allows the group to be able to truly work together in order to develop something or solve a problem in the most efficient way. If a group of 50 people are expected to collaborate they will all have different ideas and split off, while a smaller group can hear each other.

  77. Massimo says:

    This article is quite insightful as it explains how there is a cultural shift in focused innovation in global enterprise. What really captivated me was how nowadays these big tech companies are focusing their resources on smaller teams of employees rather than larger groups that go by the dozens. The reasoning for this is because agility and working space within the workspace is a key to effectiveness. What I would like to add to this is that when you are working with a smaller group, you’re able to generate more trust within this group making their corresponsive tasks feel like even more of a personal responsibility for them. Since the group is smaller, then each employee is going to hold a much larger amount of responsibility in contrary to what a bigger group would, where everyone would have to hold each other accountable. In larger groups this would lead to disorganization, which is lackluster for a working environment. Another key to success and efficiency in small teams in the workplace would be slow growth. Slow and steady wins the race, and as we’ve seen with such large companies like Facebook and Apple, tight and organized teams are growing in power, influence and innovation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *