Lee Byron

tilinverse conway

Conway’s law is an expression coined by computer scientist Melvin Conway as an observation that companies tend to design software in a way which directly mirrors their organization and communication structures.

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 (1967)

This is often used as an observation of poor software quality. Overly complex and disconnected software corresponds with similarly dysfunctional organizations.

However the inverse can be a useful tool when building organizations when you can do so downwind of a desired saliently designed system, and thus use the resulting org structure to accelerate towards the desired architecture. In doing so, you ensure your organization best serves the users of the system (presumably, your customers) rather than being self-serving1.

  1. It might seem reasonable to want your org design to serve yourself, but this is a form of Muda, or a way to define “waste” as inefficiencies in serving customer value.