Stop Loafing

*illustration by Jenny Hsieh

We’ve all seen it.

A ‘workshop’ is scheduled and the invitee list gets expanded to include pretty much everyone, just in case.

We’ve always advised our clients to build their dream teams in these situations. Knowing what needs to be done it’s best to think about the individuals that you know can help you, and slash that long list of 15 down to seven.

We know from experience, seven is the sweet-spot, but never thought too much about the sociology behind this. So, today we ask, ‘why seven?’

15 people in a room is a Conference. With seven you’ll get stuff done.

It’s nice when you discover science that officially backs up something you’ve experienced and recently this experience of smaller teams did just that.

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We found that sociologists use the term ‘Social Loafing’ to describe the phenomenon whereby, as group sizes increases, less work gets done.

So now we have the science to back up our strict ‘dream team’ rule!

Social Loafing - The Signs.

When you’re in a small team, everyone recognises that their contribution matters and so they get stuck in. As soon as you edge over seven people , that’s when the loafing begins. People start by-standing, spectating, checking emails and social media etc… i.e. they’re safe in the knowledge that even if they don’t do it, someone else will.

The Ringlemann Effect

Basically, Social Loafing is a modern term for The Ringlemann Effect. In the 19th Century, French agricultural engineer Max Ringelmann found that when people had to pull a rope with others, they wouldn’t try as hard as when they had to pull it alone, a phenomenon that also applied to horses.

Coxed Eight - Would they always beat a coxed 9+?

Coxed Eight - Would they always beat a coxed 9+?

Which makes us wonder if in rowing, the fact that the boats go up to a crew of eight (plus cox) doesn’t back up the theory that there’s no point going above this number!

Take Out

Get more done by being being strict about your team size and keep your eyes peeled for Social Loafing in action!


Big picture creative type seeks brands that are hungry to grow for LTR. Must have GSOH and love acronyms. Broad set of marketing expertise; doubt anyone knows more about Claims and Demos. Email me