THE RINGELMANN EFFECT; OR, WEAKNESS IN NUMBERS.
If ten people, who can each pull a rope attached to a strain gauge with 200 pounds of force, were to combine their efforts, they would not be capable of pulling with 2,000 pounds of force.
This counterintuitive phenomenon was identified by Maximilien Ringelmann, a French agricultural engineer, and has come to refer to the concepts of coordination losses and social loafing.
Basically, there are two reasons for this effect. The more people you have, the less likely it becomes that your efforts can be coordinated to maximum effect. And, when we’re in larger groups our motivation wanes enough to reduce our effort.
Interestingly, as his test groups got larger, the problem got worse.
Anyone who has ever been part of a large new business pitch has experienced the Ringelmann Effect.
That’s something for all of us to think about as we build teams around projects.
To use a military parallel, sometimes a team of snipers can accomplish far more than a full-scale ground invasion.
- Craig Crawford