Decades ago, Melvin Conway coined what is now called Conway’s Law: “organizations which design systems ... are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations.” Conway’s Law is a deep insight but it is only the tip of the iceberg when we try to understand the interaction between organization and software. We fail to appreciate that we can use team structure, day to day process, and the interface between business and development as levers to affect the quality of design and code. With this perspective we can also see that concerns like technical debt and portfolio management lend themselves to new solutions when we understand software’s sensitivities upon its environment.
Michael Feathers is the founder and Director of R7K Research & Conveyance, a company specializing in software and organization design. Prior to forming R7K, Michael was the Chief Scientist of Obtiva and a consultant with Object Mentor International. Over the years, Michael has spent a great deal of time helping teams after design over time in code bases. Michael is also the author of the book Working Effectively with Legacy Code (Prentice Hall, 2004).