The '2 Pizza Rule' For More Effective Meetings

Ash Lal
December 21, 2020

“Big teams usually wind up just wasting everybody’s time.” - J. Richard Hackman, the late Harvard psychologist

Think about the last large team you worked with. Was it productive? Now, think about the last tightly-knit team you worked with, did it prove to be remarkably efficient and productive than the large team?

For starters, large teams mean more chaos, greater conflict of ideas, more discussions, more disagreements, and more of pretty much everything that slows down the overall team productivity. It becomes more like a "too many cooks" situation.

And on top of it, if you have regular meetings with the large team, you need to manage your as well as your team's time and productivity. 

If you find yourself in the same situation and want to evaluate how to manage your team's productivity, we have a secret to managing your time, work, and meetings effectively. Read ahead to know more. 

The ‘2 Pizza Rule’

Meetings may be an inescapable aspect of the work culture but Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos remains skeptical of their benefit. 

According to Bezos, the ideal is the “two-pizza team.” Wondering what a two-pizza team is? It demonstrates that if a team couldn’t be fed with two pizzas, it is too big.

According to the rule, every meeting should be small enough that attendees could be fed with two large pizzas.  One of the primary goals of the ' Two-Pizza Rule' is to prevent groupthink. It is a phenomenon that occurs when a large group's need for consent overrides the decision of individual group members. 

Moreover, communication problems increase exponentially as team size increases. Ironically, the larger the team, the more time will be spent on communication instead of producing work.

With 'two pizza' meetings and small project teams, you can foster a decentralized, creative working environment for your team, startup, or organization. 

If we look at the stats, the rule makes complete sense. In the USA, 11 million meetings take place every day costing around $37 billion and on average, about 37 percent of the meetings start late. You can imagine the time and money lost in meetings alone. 

Research even shows that fewer meetings can help in boosting employee and organizational productivity, and Bezos’ 'Two-Pizza' Rule can assist in avoiding time-wasting gatherings.

The benefits of small teams over large ones

Working with a small team, you find more brains to work on interesting projects, build more bright features, and talk with our team members about their ideas individually. Moreover, assigning more people to solve a single problem is one of the most common productivity traps that you can fall into.

People in smaller teams are far more productive than in a large team. As a group size rises, all sorts of issues spring up. Individual performance levels decrease and people start becoming less engaged. So while larger teams may be getting more done altogether, it’s happening at a rate lower than the sum of individual efforts.

How to Apply the ‘Two Pizza Rule’ to Your Meetings?

To avoid these time-wasting gatherings and ensure that the schedule is only filled with meetings that are worth your time, start with implementing the “two pizza rule” that will help you in banishing unnecessary gatherings from your busy schedule.

But the question here is how you can implement this rule to maximize your productivity? Don’t Worry!  Check out some of these practical ways to adopt the "Two Pizza" rule:

1. Limit your Number of Team Members in Meetings

First things first. Start with limiting down the number of your team members to a one-digit figure. You might be thinking, is it in my hands? Probably Yes! You can always consider forming groups and subgroups within your team. 

By forming subgroups, you can ensure accountability and can streamline team communication among your team. Most importantly the decision making process would become more smooth and your team members will feel more empowered to work as they’ll be valued and trusted.

Thus, forming subgroups will automatically reduce the number of members of your meetings, and you can take your first step towards improved team productivity. 

2. Measure the Time your Meetings Take

To make a lasting impact, all team managers need to note down the time every meeting takes. And to understand its actual worth, multiply the hourly working rate of each member present in the meeting by the total time consumed in a week, you will be stunned by the results. 

All in all, the more participants you add to your meetings, the greater the cost you’ll have to bear. Just imagine the work that every team member can do while he/she is attending the meeting. 

It’s all on you how you inculcate the change and manage the time. You can start by taking the scrum meetings initially and save a lot of time. 

3. Invest in the Right Team Collaboration Tool

You are losing your team's productivity if you’re not deploying the right team collaboration tool across your company and a similar principle applies when it comes to your team meetings. 

In your meetings, you need to have a formal system of documenting and scheduling and documenting in order to keep the record. Search for a team collaboration tool that will streamline your communication process and won’t make discussions a pain. There are a plethora of tools available online. Just make sure to keep your requirements in mind and then go for it. 

Once you’ve done that, onboard the members that are an absolute must, and go manage your meetings like a pro.

4. Educate Participants About your Meeting Agenda

The significance of circulating a meeting agenda before the meeting is pretty obvious. It assists in keeping the meetings relevant and helps in avoiding deviation from the agenda.

Once you’ve decided to implement the "Two Pizza" rule, the number of participants will automatically be reduced. It will help you in easily circulating the agenda and get your point across. 

Now imagine having a big team and discussing your agenda, you will be lost midway with everyone keeping their point of view and this is how a meeting turns out to be non-productive and less valuable. 

5. Finally, Bring a Pizza to Your Meetings

Last but not least, while implementing the "Two Pizza" rule, you can't forget to take two pizzas to your meetings. You’ll instantly know if your meeting is too big or just the right size.

And the free pizza will give your team the motivation to work harder too! A win-win situation!

Check out what The 2 Pizza Rule is and how you can implement into your meetings:

Tips to Try the 'Two-Pizza team' Magic

So, now that you have understood how to implement the Two-Pizza rule, here are some quick tips for you to get you started:

  • Find the Magic Number

Bezos’s two-pizza rule works out to at most six or seven people. Most of the experts consider the magic number at five and warns against going above 10. A growth team should be 5-10 dedicated teammates. It’s safe to say that a small team count sticks to single digits. 

  • Transparency is the Key

Providing self-service transparency through processes, systems, and tools help in distributing information and power, so each member can get aligned and move forward together as a team.

  • The Cheers Rule of Effective Teams

Connecting with your team is a must. The more you can do to bring your teammates together, the better your team will be. From scaling the strong culture to a friendly atmosphere, and the tight-knit feeling, keep your team together. You can follow the Cheers rule by eating family-style lunches together every day.

The Takeaway

In a nutshell, the smaller the better, avoid having large teams unless necessary. Try to create subgroups within large groups to make things easy. 

The Two Pizza Rule is, by all indications, a wonderful shorthand for easily restricting the size of a meeting. Even on larger boards, the Two Pizza Rule can be applied to smaller committee meetings. 

Always aim for having no more than ten people in a group since it may drastically increase the various factors contributing to ineffective communication and poor productivity.

This rule is a productivity booster and can work like a magic wand if you implement it correctly across your team or organization.

Do you have more tips to implement the Two-Pizza Rule? Share them in the comments section!

Ash Lal
Ash is the Founder and CEO of Prodivy. He was a Product Manager at a large technology firm before starting Prodivy.

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