WTF is Conway's Law?

15 April 2021

16:30 CEST


For this WTFinar, we’ve got a damn legend in the house—the one and only, Michael Feathers. And the legend says, “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.”

This is true for people, eclairs, systems, and organisations.



The nature of programming is changing as we shift to building cloud-based systems through DevOps and more social coding. This has implications. 

As Melvin E. Conway famously observed: “Any organisation that designs a system (defined broadly) will produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organisation's communication structure.”

If the structure on the inside is good, they’re likely to make good stuff. 

Simply put, great communication structure = great social coding. 

Overcoming common legacy-code challenges can be seen as the original social coding. 

For anyone who truly wants to understand how to tackle this, there is one go-to reference. Working Effectively with Legacy Code, Feathers’s book first published in 2004, remains as influential as ever. 

In this WTFinar, WTF is Conway’s Law, Feathers will talk about aspects of social coding such as:

  • how to keep conversations with a team member safe when you have different approaches to solving an engineering problem
  • how you ensure that the changes you make to a system don’t have unexpected consequences
  • how organisational structure and communication patterns can impact the quality of the code a team produces
  • how you can execute an 'Inverse Conway Manoeuvre' to promote your desired architecture


Who should attend?

  • Managers scaling to bigger teams
  • Product owners, innovation directors, program managers, and directors of transformation
  • Execs unsure of how to manage internal communication and processes
  • Team leads who have to reconsider how they organise their work and their teams

Our Speakers will include:

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 theMichael Feathers Chief Scientist of Obtiva and a consultant with Object Mentor International. Over the past 20 years he has consulted with hundreds of organizations, supporting them with general software design issues, process change and code revitalization. A frequent presenter at national and international conferences, Michael is also the author of the book Working Effectively with Legacy Code (Prentice Hall, 2004).

Jamie Dobson, co-founder and CEO of Container Solutions, a professional services company that specialises in Cloud Native transformation. With clients like Shell, jamie-1Adidas, and other large enterprises, CS helps organisations navigate not only technology solutions but also adapt their internal culture and set business strategy. Jamie is the co-author of the new bookCloud Native Transformation: Practical Patterns for Innovation, (O'Reilly Media, 2020). A veteran software engineer, he specialises in leadership and organisational strategy, and is a frequent presenter at conferences.

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