You Really Do Need a Small Decision-Making Team

How big is the team or group?
How much power do they have to make decisions?

Those are key questions these days. We’re in an era of fast decision-making. Slow decision-making can leave you behind… way behind. Your dominant, successful product or service is now threatened. It does not matter if you have provided a preferred product/service for decades, or just a handful of months or years. Today, every successful company is threatened.

Is there anyone left who has not observed the turmoil of the “personal transportation” industry? Taxis are threatened in city after city by Uber. And now, by others.

So, traditional taxis are threatened, and they’ve been around much longer than my entire lifetime.

But so are shorter-lived companies and services. Consider social media websitessite after site. About the time I get used to Facebook or Twitter, I read that more and more people are spending more of their social media time on newer sites. At this moment, Instagram seems to be getting bigger by the week. And it is possible that I am so not with it that Instagram may already be the wrong illustration to use.

(I’m secretly hoping that no one begins to compete too seriously with LinkedIn. I’m just barely learning how to use it effectively.)

So the temptation, the tendency, the big-time mistake of spending a huge chunk of time and resources on a product or service that is already in trouble to the new kid on the block has never been quite the problem before as it is today.

Just this week, I’ve read about the threat to print media (read the New York Magazine article here). The hyper-competitiveness of Uber, the trouble of Sears, the prediction that Chipotle and its offspring will ultimately spell the doom of traditional fast food outlets… it is a tough time.

So, back to the opening two sentences:

How big is the team – the group?
How much power do they have to make decisions?

I still remember the time that I heard a venture capitalist state things so very simply.

“You’ve got to have a product or service that people will pay for.”

My friend, Dan Weston, always reminds me to add the phrase “…and one you can make a profit from.”

Deciding if you are still making the right product, or providing the right service, is critical. Thus, making decisions is critical. And these days, those decisions have to be made faster than ever before. You may have to (likely will have to) shift now. Right now. Really, really, really quickly.

If your decision-making entity is too big (with too many people) you will be genuinely handicapped.

In the article The Quirks of Smallness by Joe Pinsker , the idea is this: smaller is better. Here are two key paragraphs:

The priority of smallness seems to be key in building a board that can make smart decisions quickly—and this is echoed in research done on the optimal size of teams, too.
A writer for Fortune magazine was bold enough to suggest in 2006 that there is an “optimal” number for a group: 4.6. Aside from the obvious logistical problem of determining whether to include the arms or the legs of that marginal six-tenths of a person, sticking to a cut-and-dried number of people for all groups would be absurd, given the variety of projects out there. That said, smallness generally appears to be a trusty organizing principle.

No matter what your business, you are in the decision-making business. Too big a decision-making group, and you are going to be seriously handicapped. Build a good, sharp, reliable, small group. It looks like it should be five or fewer. Make sure they have the information they need. Empower them to actually make decisions. Then, they have to make those decisions. Quickly. And then, the larger team has to execute the implementing of those decisions.

So how big is your decision-making group?

Randy Mayeux

Contributed by:
Randy Mayeux
Professional Speaker & Writer
Co-founder, First Friday Book Synopsis

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