Can a large organization really encourage the risk taking and game changing thinking that a small business or startup does?
What if large team performance is very much like a well-diversified portfolio, but in the sense that the high performing ideas get offset by the stable performing ideas and horribly performing ideas. The consensus ideas tend toward the mean of the group. The larger the organization, the closer the sample is to the general population, and the more likely that the results will tend toward the mean, i.e., mediocrity.
By contrast, a small business or team is going to be a less diversified sample of the population. With less diversification of ideas, performance becomes concentrated. This increases the possibilities of a spectacular failure as well as of a spectacular success.
The advantage of this quick success or death is that failure becomes obvious. In a large organization, the slow death may be enough for the organization to continue on its path for decades, until their business is completely gone.
Think of this as the difference between investing your 401(k) in CDs, bond index funds, or maybe even index funds [large organization] vs. picking a single company to throw money into each year [small team/business]. In the former choices, you will get higher performance only by sheer volume, and yet, even the CDs seem like they’re gaining in value all the time. 30 years later, you will have anywhere from the low end of mediocre performance to the high end.
In investing in a single company each year, you may end up with a boom or bust scenario, but you’ll have opened up the possibility of performance outside of the “mediocre” or “average” range.
The bottom line is, the smaller the sample size, the larger the performance swings can be. Would a large team really even want those performance swings if they were possible?