It Takes Three People, Not A Village

Thinking about adding one more person to your meeting invite "just to make sure?" Don't do it.

Wondering how many people need to approve something? It's at least one less than you think.

When it comes to meetings and decision-making, it doesn't take a village. In fact, in my experience, it typically doesn't take more than three people. While I've certainly worked in groups bigger than this, I've found smaller groups to be much more enjoyable, efficient and effective. I also realize that sometimes you might have to include a larger group of people (e.g., getting buy-in from various leaders within your company), but that doesn't mean they have to be involved in every meeting you have and/or every decision you make. Leverage a smaller team to come up with recommendations and manage upward. I've seen numerous instances where people don't know how to manage expectations of upper-management and default to adding more people to make up for what they don't know or can't decide. When these expectations aren't managed, one of two things happens: 1) a decision isn't made and the initiative is put on hold or 2) a bad decision is made and the core group responsible for implementation is left to dry even though they don't support the direction they've been given.

Easier said than done, right? Right. The idea of less is more as it relates to the number of people involved in decision-making is not always possible. In order for this to work, you need to have the right people in the workplace with complimentary skill sets as part of the smaller core team. Furthermore, roles need to be clearly defined in order for core team members to properly support one another. Most importantly, organizations must embrace the notion empowering a smaller group of employees to make recommendations on important business decisions. Upper-management must support and practice this approach themselves in order for employees to feel comfortable working this way.

Put your political beliefs aside for a second and think of it this way. In David Plouffe's book, The Audacity to Win, he consistently references the "inner-circle" team that consisted of him, David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs. This group of three represented the "core team" that built the foundation of Obama's 2008 Presidential campaign. They made thousands of critical decisions, allowing them to make concise recommendations to Barack Obama throughout the course of the campaign. The end result of the campaign and the accolades it's since received speak for themselves. I think these guys proved that it takes three people, not a village.