Why do devs want more devs?

Almost always, more team mates means slower output, not faster. So what's the proper solution?

Maybe it’s just me. But it seems to me that whenever the question of “why is this taking so long?” comes up on a team, the developers on the team usually have an almost knee-jerk reaction: “We need to hire more devs!”

I have to wonder why. Because more often than not, adding more people to a team makes them observably slower, not faster.

Honestly, I think a big part of it is that it’s a quick and plausible way to deflect what might be seen as blame.

Although to be fair, it’s not just devs who make the incorrect assumption that more teammates will speed things up.

Most people make this mistake!

And it sounds superficially plausible that adding more people to help do the work will make the work faster.

The thing is, it doesn’t take much to demonstrate that this simply doesn’t hold up in many cases.

More bakers in the kitchen can’t make a cake faster, and pretty quickly they begin getting in each other’s way.

More cars on the road means each one goes slower, not faster.

Or the ever-popular example: 9 women won’t make a baby in one month.

So what’s the real answer to making software development go faster?

Well, unfortunately there is no single answer. But there is a single approach: Observe the team, and find where work spends most of its time waiting. That’s your bottleneck. Fix that. Fixing that rarely requires more people on the team.

Need help identifying your team’s bottleneck? I can often help in an hour or less. Reach out!

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