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 (API Academy, CA Technologies)
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

API Academy, CA Technologies

An internationally known author and lecturer, Mike Amundsen travels the world consulting and speaking on a wide range of topics, including distributed network architecture, web application development, and other subjects. Mike is director of architecture for the API Academy, where he heads up the API architecture and design practice in North America and is responsible for working with companies to provide insight on how to best capitalize on the myriad opportunities APIs present to both consumers and the enterprises themselves. Mike has authored numerous books and papers on programming over the last 15 years, including RESTful Web APIs, a collaboration with Leonard Richardson, and Building Hypermedia APIs with HTML5 and Node, an oft-cited reference on building adaptable web applications. His most recent book, RESTful Web Clients, was released in early 2017 by O’Reilly.