What is your inverse bus factor?

July 22, 2021

Yesterday I talked about the bus factor. The lesser known inverse bus factor is often just as important:

How many team members need to be hit by a bus* before your project can become productive?

*or otherwise disappear from the team.

The inverse bus factor points to the problem of team members who provide negative business value.

Of course, most of us provide negative business value during onboarding, so we aren’t concerned with that.

In my experience, the inverse bus factor raises above zero in one of two scenarios:

  1. A particularly toxic personality, (who could be an expert beginner), who either destroys team morale, or requires so much micromanagement as to be a net drain (often both).

    Ironically, this person is also often the rock star, and seen as indispensible. This may make them both the one person the team cannot afford to lose, and simultaneously the one person the team most needs to lose.

  2. A team that’s simply too large. There may not be any individual who “needs to go”, but the team is too large to be effective. I’ve seen this especially in startups which are actively hiring as quickly as possible, without regard for productivity.

Is your team too large to be productive? I’d love to hear about it. Hit REPLY and let me know.