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Increasing Productivity by Thinking Small

“Increasing Productivity by Thinking Small” by Ishankya Kodithuwakku (Echelon, July 2015)

People in large teams are less engaged, and individual performance drops. The team as a whole may complete more work, but individuals are less personally productive, so the team essentially gets more done at a lower rate. Larger teams also lead to more friction, partly because communication suffers. Leapset now introduces the concept of a small team at the Sri Lankan development centre. Leapset has been building software and products to automate independent US restaurants, has introduced the small team concept at its Sri Lankan development centres. The means in which Leapset aims to do this is by organizing the engineers into small teams of not more than six people, calling it “insane engineering”, named after the Insane Mode of the Tesla Model S which accelerates the car from zero to 60mph in just 3.2 seconds. Coincidentally, Tesla is also organized around small teams of five to six people. US-headquartered Leapset introduced the small team concept first at its Austin, Texas office, but the concept is being championed in the Sri Lanka offices.

To initiate insane engineering, Leapset reorganized itself across horizontals into small self-organizing teams of no more than six engineers. Each team develops one product at a time and is mentored by directors who work across teams.  The team’s collaboration is key. This emphasizes adaptive planning, rapid and flexible responses to change, evolutionary development, continuous improvement and early delivery. Test-driven development relies on repeating a short development cycle; initially the developer writes an automated test case that defines a desired improvement or new function, then provides minimal code to pass the test and finally reworks the new code to an acceptable standard. When a Leapset small team fulfills the said conditions, it has reached insane mode, meaning that it’s performing at its optimum level.

Shanil Fernando, Leapset’s co-founder and Managing Director in Sri Lanka states that the small team concept embraces startup culture. “If I start a new company tomorrow, it’s not going to have 30 people. It’s going to be a maximum five-person team seated in a room, building a product together.” He points out that a team is fully optimized at this size and can harness the power of individuals and drive entrepreneurship and innovation because each team is like a company developing a product.

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos calls them “two pizza teams” because he thinks a team which can’t be fed on two pizzas is a team that’s too big.
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One Comment for ““Increasing Productivity by Thinking Small” by Ishankya Kodithuwakku (Echelon, July 2015)”

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