1.5 How many people?
Does the task need a lot of people doing the same task (for example, a call centre) or a small, expert team addressing different parts of the task (for example, writing a textbook)? The size of the team needed will be an important consideration. The larger the team, the greater the potential variety of skills and knowledge, but as the size of the team increases each individual will have fewer opportunities to participate and influence proceedings. The size of a team is therefore a trade-off or balance between variety and individual input. A team of between five and seven people is considered best for the effective participation of all members, but to achieve the range of expertise and skills required, the group may need to be larger. This brings with it the challenges of how to manage and supervise a large team.
Homogeneous groups, whose members share similar values and beliefs, may be more satisfying to work in and may experience less conflict, but they tend to be less creative and produce greater pressures for conformity. In contrast, heterogeneous groups, whose members have a wider range of values and beliefs, are likely to experience greater conflict, but they have the potential for greater creativity and innovation.
This introduction has outlined differences between groups and teams but it has also highlighted the fact that all teams are groups but not all groups are teams. The remaining sections of this chapter sometimes relate specifically to teams and sometimes to groups and teams. Thus, we refer to all groups as teams rather than groups and teams.