Breno Martinusso

~/tech/The one about large groups do less seems to be an ironclad rule of human nature

The one about large groups do less seems to be an ironclad rule of human nature

In software development there’s a term called “Brooks’s Law” that Fred Brooks first coined back in 1975 in his seminal book The Mythical Man-Month. Put simply, Brooks’s Law says “adding man-power to a late software project makes it later”. This has been borne out in study after study. Lawrence Putnam is a legendary figure in software development, and he has made it his life’s works to study how long things take to make and why. His work kept showing that projects with twenty ou more people on them used more effort than those with five or fewer. Not just a little bit, but a lot. A large team would take about five times the number of hours that a small team would. He saw this again and again, and in the mid-1990s he decided to try to do a broad-based study to determine what the right team size is. So he looked at 491 medium-size projects at hundreds of different companies. These were all projects that required new products or features to be created, not a repurposing of old versions. He divided the projects by team size and noticed some thing right away. Once the teams grew larger than eight, they took dramatically longer to get things done. Groups made up of three to seven people required about 25 percent of the effort of groups od nine to twenty to get the same amount of work done. This result recurred over hundreds and hundreds of projects. That very large groups do less seems to be an ironclad rule of human nature.