The Anti-Two Pizza Rule

So Amazon supposedly has a “two pizza rule” to limit the size of meetings – the convention is that two pizzas should be sufficient to feed all participants in any meeting. While pizza is not necessarily served at most meetings, the rule effectively implies that a meeting can’t have more than seven or eight people.

The point of the rule is not hard to see – a meeting that has too many people will inevitably have people who are not contributing, and it’s a waste of their time. Limiting meeting size also means cutting total time employees spend in meetings, meaning they can get more shit done.

While this is indeed a noble “rule” in a corporate setting, it just doesn’t work for parties. In fact, after having analysed lots of parties I’ve either hosted or attended over the years, and after an especially disastrous party not so long ago (I’ve waited a random amount of time since that party before writing this so as to not offend the hosts), I hereby propose the “anti two pizza rule” for parties.

While five to eight people is a good number for a meeting, having enough people contributing but no deadweight, the range doesn’t do well at all for more social gatherings. The problem is that with this number, it is not clear if the gathering should remain in one group, or split into multiple groups.

When you have a “one pizza party” (5-6 people or less), you have one tight group (no pun intended) and assuming that people will get along with each other, you’re likely to have a good time.

When you have a “three pizza party” (more than 10 people), it’s intuitive for the gathering to breakup into multiple groups, and if things go well, these groups will be fluid and everyone will have a good time. Such a gathering also allows people to test waters with multiple co-attendees and then settle on the mini-group that they’ll end up spending most time with.

A two-pizza party (6-10 people), on the other hand, falls between the two stools. One group means there will be people left out of the conversation without respite. In such a small gathering, it is also not easy to break out of the main group and start your own group (again, seating arrangement matters). And so while some attendees (the “core group”) might end up having fun, the party doesn’t really work for most participating parties.

So, the next time you’re hosting a party, do yourself and your guests a favour and ensure that you don’t end up with between 6 and 10 people at the party. Either less or more is fine!

You might want to read this other post I’ve written on coordinating guest lists for birthday parties.

Pizza from dominos – good and bad

Last night we decided we wanted pizza from dominos for dinner. Having been used to Swiggy, I instinctively googled for dominos and tried to place the order online.

There is one major fuckup with the dominos website – it asks you to pick the retail outlet closest to you, rather than taking your location and picking it yourself. And so it happened that we picked an outlet not closest to us.

I quickly got a call from the guy at the outlet where my order had gone, expressing his inability to deliver it, and saying he’ll cancel my order. I gave him a mouthful – it’s 2016, and why couldn’t he have simply transferred the order to the outlet that is supposed to service me?

I was considering cancelling the order and not ordering again (a self-injurious move, since we wanted Dominos pizza, not just pizza), when the guy from the outlet in whose coverage area I fell called. He explained the situation once again, saying my original order was to be cancelled, and he would have to take a new order.

Again – it wasn’t just a fuckup in the payment in the Dominos system, in which case they could’ve simply transferred my order to this new guy. So I had to repeat my entire order once again to this guy (not so much of a problem since I was only getting one pizza) and my address as well (it’s a long address which I prefer filling online).

Then there was the small matter of payment – one reason I’d ordered online was that I could pay electronically (I used PayTM). When I asked him if I could pay online for the new order he said I had to repeat the entire process of online ordering – there was no order ID against which I could simply logon and pay.

I played my trump card at this time – asked him to make sure the delivery guy had change for Rs. 2000 (I’d lined up at a bank 2 weeks back and withdrawn a month’s worth of cash, only that it was all in Rs. 2000 notes). He instantly agreed. Half an hour later, the pizza, along with change for Rs. 2000 was at my door.

The good thing about the experience was that the delivery process was smooth, and more importantly, the outlet where my order reached had taken initiative in communicating it to the outlet under whose coverage my house fell – the salespersons weren’t willing to take a chance to miss a sale that had fallen at their door.

The bad thing is that Jubilant Foodworks’ technology sucks, big time. Thanks to the heavily funded and highly unprofitable startups we usually order from, we’re used to a high level of technology from the food delivery kind of businesses. Given that Jubilant is a highly profitable company it shouldn’t be too hard for them to license the software of one of these new so-called “foodtech” companies to further enhance the experience.

No clue why they haven’t done it yet!

PS: I realise I’ve written this blogpost in the style I used to write in over a decade ago. Some habits die hard.

Testing the counterfactual: footballers eating pizza edition

Five German under-21 footballers, including Liverpool midfielder Emre Çan, went out for pizza before their U-21 European Championship semifinal against Portugal, in which they got walloped 5-0.

Following the wallop, these players have been pilloried for going out before an important knockout game, for not having taken it seriously enough.

To understand whether people are right or not in pillorying these players, and whether the players were wrong in going out for pizza before a game, we need to test the counterfactual (we had done this here once before with Moeen Ali’s wristbands).

What if Germany had won the game against Portugal? Had they won it, would people have still noticed that these players were out on the eve  of the game (it was public information. One of them posted it to Instagram) ? Would players have still been accused of not taking the game seriously enough?

Note that I’m not defending the German players here. I’m only questioning the timing of the attack – on the back of defeat, which to me seems to be a case of correlation (players go out for pizza; lose game) being mistaken for causation (pizza caused loss, approximately).

Wine buying

Today, for the first time ever, I went out to buy wine, and in hindsight (I’m writing it having finished half of half the bottle) I think I did a pretty good job.

I had gone to this “Not just wine and cheese” store in Jayanagar hoping to pick up some real good wine to go with our cooking experiments for the evening (we’re making pizza and pasta). Having had really bad experiences with Indian wines (Nine Hills, Grover’s, Sula), I gave them a wide berth and moved over to the international section. The selection wasn’t particularly vast, and interestingly as soon as I moved over to the international section, one of the shopkeepers came over to assist me.

He first showed me a 2009 wine from France, when i asked him to show something older. For a slightly higher price, he pulled out a 2006 wine from France. The pricing seemed suspicious to me. A six year old wine from France, one of the more sought after wine-producing countries, for just Rs. 1600 (inclusive of 110% tax, so the duty free dollar price comes to around $15)? May not be very good wine, I reasoned, and now I decided to let go of all details on production date, etc. and simply asked the shopkeeper to recommend to me a good bottle.

Maybe it was the fact that I had quickly moved over to the international section, or that I was talking about year of bottling, but the shopkeeper assumed I was a rather serious buyer, and enthusiastically recommended to me a few bottles. Now, picking wines is tougher than picking whiskeys (where it’s easy to have favourite brands. Mine, if you would ask, is Talisker). Each country has several estates, the year of bottling, weather in the country in various years and several other factors go into determining how good a bottle is. Also, there’s inverse pricing, where you perceive more expensive wines to be better. So one has to look upon raw economics skills in order to judge wine bottles and pick something that is likely to be good.

What particularly interested me was a bottle of 2010 wine from Chile. Now, at Rs. 1300, it seemed rather highly priced for its vintage (given that France 2006 went for 1600). And then, I realized that Chile is a rather unfashionable wine producer, since most people tend to prefer European wines, and that being in the temperate weather zone, it is capable of producing good wines.

The shopkeeper mentioned that the particular bottle had been procured after a customer had specifically asked for it, and that it was made of superior quality grapes. Now, given that it was a wine of recent vintage and from an unfashionable producer, that it cost almost as much as a much older wine from a much older vintage told me something. That it was likely to be good.

It’s about two hours since I got home, and the bottle is half empty. The wine has been absolutely fabulous, and I hope this is the beginning of a great wine-buying career.