A Recipe for Thinly Sliced Technology: Is the Pizza Still a Pizza?

July 30, 2020

I don’t want to wax philosophical. Amazon is associated with the concept of the two-pizza team. The idea is that when something crashes, get two people to fix it. Amazon is a two-pizza company, and it works well enough to make Mr. Bezos a star among stars when it comes to cash and risk of government regulation.

The write up “Many Small Teams” seems to be about an idea and a general business practice.

I noted this passage in the article:

Somewhere along the line, we forgot about “reducing communication” just started fixating on assigning independent teams to problem statements that were essentially tiny slices of business problems. As the problem space gets more finely sliced in hopes of achieving scale at each step, so does the number of teams. e.g. What might have been a “Data Delivery Team” charged with delivering fresh data to customers unfortunately becomes “Data ingestion Team”, “Data processing Team” and “Data Release Team” (real world example).

Is the author describing an Amazon vulnerability? When a pizza is sliced into thin pieces, is it still a pizza? What if the approach creates a dog’s breakfast?

Interesting question? The essay points out that an organic process takes place: Small teams grow. Then teams split. What’s the chief indicator of this condition? Perhaps documentation like Amazon’s explanations of its myriad cloud services. Little slices of pizza with more slicing taking place?

The author of the article works at Uber. Pizza delivery I get. But tiny pizza slices for a gig economy delivery outfit? Like I said philosophy.

Stephen E Arnold, July 31, 2020


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