Thursday, February 16, 2012

Hrair - how many folks should we have in our meetings?

Meetings:
  • Some are the bane of our existence. Too many people involved, too easy to get distracted, not much happening overall.
  • Some are delightful. Just enough people, high energy, intense conversation and collaboration, joyful enthusiasm shared.
It turns out that our brains are wired such that we can only keep a very small number of things in mind at any one time. Some argued for 7+/-2, some say even less, around three or four.

Hrair is a word found in the rabbit vocabulary of the book Watership Down. Since rabbits have an awful time with numbers, they only have actual words for numbers one, two, three, and four. Any number after that is hrair, which literally means "a thousand", but often means "a lot". The idea is that for humans, hrair might be similar, and at most stretch to 7 plus-or-minus 2.

The interesting observation is that small meetings (of no more than hrair folks) tend to be far more focused, effective and joyful. The same concept applies to Agile teams - teams of no more than hrair folks have an advantage at keeping tightly focused on a shared set of goals.

Groups of more than hrair people find it increasingly harder to keep focused on a single conversation. It becomes a progressively easier to get distracted and tempted to draw into a side-conversation with hrair folks or less.

1 comment:

  1. My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!


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