What BIG things do SMALL groups of people do best?

Convener(s): Annie Rigby

Participants: Jonathan ‘Peth’, Rachael McGill, Jo Turner, Matilda Leyser

(a small group - perfectly so!)

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Why is it that bigger organizations with more resources have less time?

Are small groups of people less encumbered, more elegant, lighter on their feet?


Small companies know their audiences on a more conversational scale. The relationship is more personal.


It is less shameful for small companies to cancel/abandon projects. And less costly – they probably haven’t got 10,000 brochures for the 2011 season printed yet…

It’s easier for small groups to TAKE RISKS. There’s less to lose. They can just stop.


A small company can be more responsive to staff. If it lets one person bring a dog in, it doesn’t have to implement a company-wide ‘Pets at Work’ policy.

Smaller companies can more easily involve all their staff in intelligent conversations.

(Small companies can still be shit, mind.) 


In a smaller group people bring more of themselves, and have less narrowly defined roles.


Small companies are good at morphing and changing scale temporarily.

Freelancers make more of an impact.

No one expects small companies to have the answer, so they can do more ‘kite-flying’.

Small groups fit in one car. 


Working in small groups means sometimes you have to do unusual things (making a 1940s-looking newspaper quickly for a Fringe show).

Isn’t this where we had more fun...?

What is dangerous for small groups:

  • - Assuming that being a small groups means you need to think small
  • - Knocks can hit harder
  • - One person disappears and the whole thing goes (although is this sometimes ok?)


It’s quicker amongst a small group of people.


It’s easier to collaborate more deeply with a small group. There’s time to share what each person is doing; to get involved in each other’s process.

What SMALL things do BIG groups of people do best?

Small talk.

Big groups always have good gossip. 

And a contribution from Twitter which put a whole new slant on small groups/big power:

“It reminds me of that old saw: ‘the British Empire’ was built on the playing fields of Eton”…