Conway’s Law and Organisational Restructures

Fred Brooks’ “The Mythical Man-month” cited Conway’s seminal paper on the relationship between software and organisational structures. Conway phrased the relationship as:

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

In other words, software solidifies organisational processes and structures.

So what happens when you re-structure an organisation? And add more software. And re-structure again? The overall software system (of systems) will now reflect the new and the old organisational structures. Sounds messy.

Obviously, it is necessary for organisations to re-structure, but I am wondering how often an organisational re-structure activity includes consideration and impact assessment of the relevant technology systems?


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