Thursday, November 03, 2005


Optimal breakout group size

In workshops, it is a commonplace to take a large group meeting and divide it into a number of equally sized subgroups to give each person more of a chance to participate in the same amount of time. To share the discussion results at the end, each group presents a short report to the full assemblage.

In a recent IlliGAL technical report, A Little Model of Optimal Group Size in Breakout Meetings, I present a little model of the tradeoff between reporting and discussion in breakout groups and calculate the optimal group size. The note (pdf) is short, but the result is sensible, and it ties to a number of other useful little models in organizational settings. Tian-Li blogs about his presentation at the Academy of Management (here), and our note on optimal team size under deciding and doing is here, and our optimal communication in a hierarchical organization paper is here.

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