Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Loose ends: Continuous Delivery & Conway's Law

A few weeks ago I did a presentation entitled “Conway’s Law and Continuous Delivery” - although it was also at some point entitled “Conway’s Law and Organisational Change” or possibly “Conway’s Law and Change for Continuous Delivery” - to the Pipeline Conference in London.

The presentation was very well received at the time and I spent most of the next hour talking with people who wanted to talk about the presentation. One tester came to be later and said “Thank you, I understand what I’m doing now, I’m testing the organisation.”

Since then the presentation has had a lot of interest on Twitter and on SlideShare - at one time it made the front page of SlideShare (my 15 minutes of fame I guess).

I should say I took a slight liberty with the “organisational change” bit. I didn’t so much describe how to bring about organisational change as describe how the organization might (even should) change to align itself with Conway’s Law. Sorry about that, I don’t have a potted “how to change your organisation” recipe (although if you want to call I’m available for hire!)

Actually the Pipeline conference was the second time I’d made this presentation. The first outing was for the London Continuous Delivery group and hosted at the Financial Times. If you missed these two outings the good news is that the FT delivery was recorded and is available on Vimeo. This presentation is also on SlideShare but isn’t significantly different from the Pipeline version.

(Personally I feel that was the better of the two presentations but others have told me the second was the better, perhaps what the second lacked in raw freshness was more than made up for in being a little more polished and debugged.)

I’m really grateful to Matthew Skelton, Steve Smith and Chris O’Dell who are the people behind both London Continuous Delivery and Pipeline. Although I’ve known about the idea of continuous delivery for a while I know much more and I’m really excited by it.

They have also furnished me an opportunity to revisit Conway’s Law. Nearly 10 years ago I ran a workshop exploring Conway’s Law at EuroPLoP 2005. Both my co-organizer and I learned a lot, in fact the fuss about our write up rambled on for a couple of years - I’m not going to reopen that here and now. (The full report “What do we think of Conway’s Law now?” is available for download from

Ever since then one of my mental models has been the organisation structure is the software architecture, I may no longer change code but by changing organizations I am practicing software architecture.

Right now my head is buzzing with thoughts on Continuous Delivery, Conway’s Law, Team Structure, Scaling Agile and how this all fits with the Beyond Projects / No Projects agenda. I feel that if I can just make sense of all this I’m on the verge of some great breakthrough!

1 comment:

  1. Yes keep going Allan! Add in microservices and your idea of Minimum Viable Teams and we could really be onto something.


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