Build resilient systems at scale
28–30 October 2015 • Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Conway's 3 other laws: Optimizing teams in a distributed world

Mike Amundsen (, Inc.)
14:40–15:20 Thursday, 29/10/2015
Location: G104/105
Average rating: ****.
(4.54, 48 ratings)
Slides:   1-PDF 

Prerequisite Knowledge

Broad experience in teams of any size is all that is needed to understand and apply the content in this talk.


Most of us know about Conway’s adage “Any organization will produce a design which is a copy of the organization’s communication structure.” But Conway coined four laws in his 1968 paper “How Committees Invent.” What are the other ones? Why are we not talking about them? And what do they tell us about optimizing teams in a distributed world?

The recent rise of the microservices meme, the continued push to improve agility and autonomy of software teams, and the increased likelihood that teams are spread across the globe, are all related, even if they are at times in opposition to each other.

This talk looks at the work of Mel Conway, Cyril Parkinson, Fred Brooks, Robin Dunbar, and others; synthesizing advice and guidance on how we can learn from the last 50 years of research and experience in building and managing teams. We see how distance affects communication, and how we can create teams that produce the code we expect at the speed, level of complexity, coupling, and reliability necessary to succeed in today’s distributed world.

Photo of Mike Amundsen

Mike Amundsen, Inc.

Mike Amundsen is an internationally known author and speaker who travels the world discussing network architecture, web development, and the intersection of technology and society. He’s helped companies large and small capitalize on the opportunities provided by APIs, microservices, and digital transformation. He’s authored numerous books and papers and contributed to the O’Reilly book Continuous API Management. He’s the author of RESTful Web Clients and coauthor of Microservice Architecture. His latest book is Design and Build Great APIs (Pragmatic Publishing).