“Size doesn’t matter…”

Anyone who tells you size doesn’t matter hasn’t tried to complete a huge mobile app with just two people… in two months. So yes. Size DOES matter.

But how big is too big? How small is too small? What is just right?

I set out to get some ideas not only from folks I work with, but from industry experts. First, let’s reacquaint ourselves with what a scrum team actually is, as stated in the 2017 Scrum Guide 

The Scrum Team consists of a Product Owner, the Development Team, and a Scrum Master. Scrum Teams are self-organizing and cross-functional. Self-organizing teams choose how best to accomplish their work, rather than being directed by others outside the team. Cross-functional teams have all competencies needed to accomplish the work without depending on others not part of the team. The team model in Scrum is designed to optimize flexibility, creativity, and productivity. The Scrum Team has proven itself to be increasingly effective for all the earlier stated uses, and any complex work.

Jeff Sutherland himself (co-author of the Scrum Guide) has been quoted as saying 7 teammates (+ or – 2) is the sweet spot. I did hear Mr. Sutherland say at the 2017 Global Scrum Gathering that he is rather fond of the number five; he admitted he loves fractals. Bob Galen, someone from whom I’ve taken some valuable guidance, wrote a quick blog post describing the “Goldilocks” team as being 6 or 7 people, excluding the Product Owner and Scrum master.

I tend to agree with Jeff and Bob. 5 to 7 people seems to be a manageable number. In my experience, anything larger could become unwieldy during scrum ceremonies such as daily stand-ups or the retrospectives.

What are your thoughts? Sound off in the comments.


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