Inverse Conway Maneuver!

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

– Melvin E. Conway (1967)

Let’s give a quick review of what Conway considers under this statement. In brief, Conway’s theory
entails that the working methods and how innovative business results are, is linked with the quality of
the digital product they produced. For instance, if a digital product consists of different modules and
for each phase different developers are involved, the interactivity between them will have an effect on
the efficiency of those modules.

So until now, we need to carry a clear message that digital development depends on communication,
coordination and cooperation.

In a detailed review, Krzysztof Radzik, Content Writer at Boldare (Product Design and Development
Company), signals the difference in software development, taking the example between open sources
and closed source software. Android can be developed by people all over the world like a loosely-
connected community. On the other hand, iOS is more like an in-house environment. Which is not
bad, but if we regard general results, iOS works well within its own context but is not always flexible
with others.

So, if we want to benefit from Conway’s Law aspects such as:

  • Open communication: any gatekeepers could cause a considerate impact on product quality.
  • Aligned your incentives and goals: everyone working for the same end result and is involved.
  • Autonomous decision making: all opinions are demanded to be listened to, if just a general
    agreement will be moved forward, how would you keep  motivated to be aligned?

Nonetheless, as some articles stated, “Inverse Conway Maneuver” term has been introduced by Jonny
Leroy and Matt Simons in 2010. But how does it exactly work? In short, the structure of the software
affects the organization itself. For example, Conway’s Law states the better the teams communicate, it
is reflected in the product itself. The inverse Conway’s Law states that the final structure or
architecture chosen, affects the organization itself. Through Conway’s Law – how well we interact as a
team impacts how well it forms an architecture. But the inverse proposes to move the organizational
and technical part together.

This inverse perspective works perfectly when changing a process from within is hard to implement,
and in order to progress the technical system in a different way which is simple or rapid to carry out.

Lastly, there is a phrase worth to be recalled by Andreas Wolff for Agile & Learn: The way your
people communicate, the way your code communicates (:

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Inverse Conway Maneuver!

“Any organization that designs a system (defined broadly) will produce a design whose structure is