How the Rule of 150 Impacts Your Company

The Rule of 150 also known as Dunbar’s Number can impact your company negatively.

Read on to learn what is the Rule of 150 and what changes you can implement to protect your company.  

How many people do you have on your Facebook friends list?

How many of them do you know personally?

Among the people you know personally, with how many do you have stable social relationships?

Anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar says there is a limit to the number of people with whom we can maintain stable social relationships, and that number is 150. No matter how many people Facebook suggests you bring into your group, the number of persons you keep contact with is still 150.


Prof Robin Dunbar / pressreleasses.responsesource.com

The number 150 is a direct result of our brain size.

In the early 1990s, professor Robin Dunbar was studying the correlation between primate brain size and average social group size.

He found that the number of social group members a primate can track appears to be limited by the volume of the neocortex. Only a few chromosomes separate humans from primates so he inserted the human brain size into this equation and the number that came up was 150.


Dunbar’s Number / applum.com

Anthropological data supports his theory: 150 is the average size of farming villages in the Neolithic and professional armies in the Roman Empire.

Dunbar’s number is also validated in modern times: Twitter users can entertain a maximum of 100–200 stable relationships, LinkedIn or XING users who have around 150 connections are more successful in getting job offers than those who have over 1000 people in their network.

Learn about XING here: Top 5 Social Media Platforms You Never Knew About

Does the Rule of 150 influence the dynamics of organisations?

As it turns out, the answer is yes.

When the number of employees is below or at this threshold, the company runs smoothly.

When the number of employees exceeds 150, it has a negative impact on the company.

Here is what happens in companies where the employee count rises above 150:

  • Decision-making processes are stalled;
  • Employees are given less feedback and career development mentorship;
  • Managers are overwhelmed;
  • Information about company strategy is not adequately spread across staff;
  • Internal communications are less effective.

Learn more: Keeping Your Employees Happy Is More Than a Higher Paycheck

6 Smart Changes to Implement in your company

Every company CEO and startup founder wants their organisation to grow and develop. This usually means hiring more people.

How should companies grow without experiencing the negative consequences of breaking the rule of 150?

They need to change and adapt.

As the head of your company, here are 6 smart changes that you can implement to make sure your employees are efficient, productive and happy even if their number is over 150:

  1. Create smaller groups of employees to allow them to connect with each other more easily;
  2. Establish company rituals that support company culture and community;
  3. Use internal chat app (i.e. Slack);
  4. Set up meetings to share with your employees what works and what doesn’t work;
  5. Have the company’s top managers meet on a weekly basis to share vital information about the company;
  6. Take time to share company values and history with your staff and new employees.

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