Is it better to have a team, or the solo, maverick developer? It depends. The solo developer can work unimpeded by others, but doesn't have anyone to work with to overcome obstacles. Teams have meetings and have to coordinate their work. Slowing them down. As teams grow the problem gets worse.

Sometimes resource planning and project management pressure encourages us to allocate additional engineering resources to development projects. And there are definitely times when having a team is the best way to work quickly.

However, on integration projects more than a couple people slows the progress of the project.

I was once involved in a merger of companies. The acquiring company had a large team of developers working on replacing the functionality of my company, the acquired one. I became a team of one and the plan was that I would maintain the systems until the migration.

Management soon became frustrated as new feature development stagnated. So they called me and asked how long it would take to produce a specific new integration feature. My estimate, 40hr over two weeks. Then they called a meeting and asked the leader of the development team how long. His estimate, 6 months or more.

This wasn't solely a matter of competence. Sure, I was still there because I was the best on my technology. But the other team was not populated with slouches. There were just too darn many of them. They got in each others way.

I, on the other hand, had no one to coordinate with. No one to slow me down.

Teams of one are not always the best, but teams of 50 are never the best.

Or as a friend of mine likes to say, "It takes one woman nine months to have one baby, but putting nine women on the job doesn't get you a baby in only one months."