Thoughts on Team Size

Working on a team is a fact of reality for most people, programmers not excluded. Now, there is a lot to say about teams, but I’m really just interested in spouting off a few thoughts about the team’s size, at the moment.

Teams of five to eight seem to work well, in my (rather limited) experience. Someone will emerge as the leader, someone will keep them on track, and the rest of us end up fitting together with our own specialities and peculiarities. There may be some troubles between some of the more conflicting personalities, but you’re likely to have a mediator to help resolve the situation peacefully.

Pairs, however, suck, or rather, have high potential to suck. If you don’t choose your partner carefully, then you may be missing a personality trait that is essential for your success.

Even more importantly, everything becomes personal. With a larger team, having the team leader tell you to get something done isn’t so bad, because it’s “the team” telling you. With just one other person, though, it comes out as “you aren’t pulling your fair share of the load”, even if that’s not what was intended.

Working by yourself, of course, avoids this issue, because it is personal.

Also, as I like to tell people, it’s hard to miscommunicate with yourself.