Conway’s Law

Any organization that designs a system (defined broadly) will produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization’s communication structure.

Melvin Conway

Conway’s law was not intended as a joke or a Zen koan, but as a valid sociological observation. It is a consequence of the fact that two software modules A and B cannot interface correctly with each other unless the designer and implementer of A communicates with the designer and implementer of B. Thus the interface structure of a software system necessarily will show a congruence with the social structure of the organization that produced it.

Easily observed in organisations today Conway’s law still has merit and should be considered when designing software or reviewing organisational design.


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So what might caring about Conway’s Law help you to do as a team enabler?

πŸ‘‰ Understand misalignment between the organisation’s communication structure and the systems and products they are creating.
πŸ‘‰ Recognise potential organisational impediments that might limit effective collaboration and communication.
πŸ‘‰ Offer practices, tools, and techniques that can help teams to navigate the limitations of the structure around them.
πŸ‘‰ Avoid common pitfalls and challenges that arise when working on complex systems.
πŸ‘‰ Help senior colleagues to understand that they play a role in shaping systems and products through their influence over communication structures.