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Adopting Conway's Law in the Workplace

January 3 2023

Without an established structure and order, the world descends into anarchy, and many people are left unsure of what comes next. The same is true for any business.conwayslaw2


Creating a system and workflow that brings about the ideal result from beginning to end should always come to the forefront of any organization’s plan. This is because having a structure with clearly defined roles and duties ensures no break in communication lines, no confusion about hierarchy, and easy identification of any area of concern.  


The organization of any business depends on the quality of its structure in communication. This is why understanding the implication of Conway's Law is valuable to the success of any company.


Luckily, that's what this article is all about.


What is Conway's Law


Any organization that designs systems will produce designs that reflect these organizations' communication structures. Born from an observation by a computer scientist called Melvin Conway in 1967, Conway's Law essentially means that the structure of any company or team will influence the design of its system or products created.


At the time, this simple law resonated with the field of software engineering. It validated that every software had the imprints of everyone involved based on the organization's communication structure. Despite its origin in software engineering, the utility of this law has experienced growth beyond the technology industries and has enjoyed significant accolades for its impact on various fields of study.


Today, the business world uses Conway's Law as a tool to evaluate the organizational structure of companies and in the creation of new systems and structures. Conway's law is why many companies place significant importance on having flat hierarchies and open communication channels


As the law states, better products and satisfied customers stem from solid communication channels that allow everyone to share ideas and feedback while keeping them on the same page. 


Why is Conway's Law So Valuable for Businesses


Conway's law enables businesses to understand the value of the roles and duties within it and how they function in establishing an ideal communication structure. Essentially, it plays a more significant role in the design of a company's systems and structures. After all, how a company organizes itself determines the quality of the product they produce.


When fractured communication occurs during the invention of a product, everyone associated with its production ends up throwing their spin on it. The lack of feedback results in a product with the imprint of everyone involved and often appears like a Frankenstein’s monster solution.


Understanding Conway's law allows businesses to build a robust communication system first, essentially building from the ground up before considering the product's design process. Doing it this way results in a streamlined and effective design or product that reflects a collective effort rather than a fragmented solution.


In summary, the values of Conway's Law in businesses include:

  • 1. It enables companies to start with the most important asset; its people
  • 2. It shows why specific systems are developed in certain ways
  • 3. It points in the right direction on how to structure new projects
  • 4. It shows businesses that changing a software architecture depends on the organization of the people involved.
  • 5. It is responsible for why companies hire consultants in the mold of how they want to work rather than any fit for them.


The Implications and Limitations of Conway's Law


The beauty of Conway's law is that it works well on things as structured as engineering or as chaotic as planning a party. Essentially, every company uses Conway's Law to a degree to spur innovation. By creating small teams and departments to boost communication in a single project, companies make closely-knit individuals capable of collaborating seamlessly, producing the best creative solutions.


However, there are implications and consequences to using Conway's Law as a sole guide to the structure of any organization. The bond created can become exclusionary, often outweighing their allegiance to the organization. This results in a derisive outlook against those not part of the group, spelling an end to the internal cohesion of the organization.


How You Can Use Conway's Law to Evaluate your Workplace System


By understanding Conway's law, you can look at your business with a fresh perspective on improving your workplace system. You can redesign the communication channels to produce better system designs. 


While in most cases, it would require a complete teardown of what came before, whatever route taken with the knowledge of Conway's law will significantly benefit the quality of your products and services.


If you desire to create more creativity and innovation, then decentralizing and creating more open communication networks will increase your business's chances of achieving this. If you want a more efficient and streamlined design process, you may need a more centralized and traditional hierarchical communication network.




Improve Your Communication and Collaboration with Snapfix


Roll out effective collaboration across the board in your business with the top-rated team management tool known as Snapfix. Snapfix offers a new world of possibilities for creating effective cooperation and communication networks in your business.


Work Order heroPromote cross-functional collaboration using Snapfix’s grouping system that creates the teams. Turn to-do lists into tasks for every team and maximize their efficiency, irrespective of whether they're working remotely or transitioning back to the office.

With Snapfix’s instant messaging system, you can keep everyone in the loop about any project and even track the progress without being overbearing.


If you want your team in the best condition under Conway's law, Snapfix provides analytics and reporting that allows you to see all task information and group hierarchies. Compiling this information will enable you to make better informed decisions and manage your systems efficiently.


Get firsthand experience with a free trial of Snapfix today. 

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