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January 18, 2006


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Jessica Lipnack

Bill, this is very interesting. Valdis may remember where this comes from: There are reported to be 25 people who consistently remain in our networks throughout our lives. The number here strikes me as very large and a by-product, as you say, of a particular social custom rather than intimate relationships.

Jessica Lipnack

Another thought on this number of 150. It's the typical point at which organizations create another unit or another level or another building. Bill Gore of WL Gore never let more than 150 people work in the same building.

Bill Ives

Jessica - Thanks for your comments. Does anybody know any more studies on this number? I wonder if people from large extended families have more capacity for other extended networks. It might be 25 from "strong ties" and 150 for weak or perhaps "semi-strong ties."

Luis Suarez

"Does anybody know any more studies on this number?"

Not necessarily more studies but certainly I have heard that number before and it is widely mentioned in "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference" (Included the link from Amazon but somehow the preview cuts it off). Here is a quote from the book:

"Keeping things under 150 seems to be the best and most efficient way to manage a group of people. When things get larger than that people become strangers to one another". Bill Gross, leader of Hutterite community. (Hutterite policy is to split before a group reaches 150)"

Also it is mentioned in some of the reviews from the book itself (To be found as well in the same linke from Amazon I mentioned above), in case you are interested in reading some more.

Here is the link to the book in Amazon and the reviews:

Bill Ives

Luis. Thanks for your comments and the additional data points on the 150. So perhaps there is some universal here. Like the magic number 7 plus or minus two in terms of the numbers we can actively remember. I recently did a review of Blink, Gladwell's most current book. You will find a link to it if your scroll down on the right side to recent articles.

Bill Ives

Luis - I followed your link and see that you also write about knowledge management so I added a link in my blog listings. Look forward to reading more.

Luis Suarez

You are most welcome, Bill ! I have meant to weblog as well about this "magic" number of 150 since I have got some additional information that I am currently trying to shape up for an upcoming weblog post but I can certainly agree with your comments about how extensive that 150 number could be to other social groups and maybe not just communities per se. Thus I may go ahead and blog about it in my weblog at some point. By the way, thanks a lot for the headsup and for the addition to your blog listings. Oh, and for the lovely reading on your review of "Blink". I haven't got my hands on the book yet but your review would be a nice start before I get my hands on the book itself. Thanks again !

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