Mirror, mirror, on the wall: testing Conway’s Law in open source communities


You’re probably familiar with Conway’s Law, that “organizations which design systems … are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations.” But did you know that there’s a tradition in academia spanning as far back as the 1960’s that has studied it in action?

Our understanding began in the traditions of organisational design, product design, and organisations-as-complex-systems. Conway’s Law is a separate tradition in technology, embracing our idioms and ways of storytelling.

But all three traditions point back to the same underlying concepts.

Conway’s Law has been studied across auto, aviation, software, banking, and healthcare. Each study has revealed how humans organise to build systems, and how those systems influence how we organise ourselves.

The results are not what you’d expect.

The internet has completely changed how we communicate – the cost of communication is lower than ever. Open Source breaks new ground about how we organise ourselves when working together. How Conway’s Law applies to open source development will surprise you.

People who attend this talk will learn:

  • A brief history of Conway’s Law in management literature and academia.
  • How Conway’s Law applies differently to your open source community and your workplace.
  • How to apply the evidence to help you grow and sustain your community in a fast evolving ecosystem.

Speaker

lindsay-holmwood

Lindsay Holmwood

 

Lindsay Holmwood is an engineering leader based in the Blue Mountains, just outside of Sydney. He served as the Head of Technology at the Australian federal government’s Digital Transformation Agency, where he was responsible for technology strategy, advice, and delivery across the organisation.

Since bringing DevOps to Australia by running the second ever DevOpsDays conference in 2010, he runs the monthly Sydney DevOps meetup (the longest running DevOps meetup in the world), and is the secretary of DevOps Australia.

Lindsay has deep and wide experience building highly reliable systems (the open source Flapjack alert routing tool used by Bank of America, Disney Online Services), and high transaction e-commerce platforms (achieving five-nines uptime for Movember while growing donations from $25M to $124M over three years).

He regularly speaks locally and abroad on technology culture, DevOps, digital transformation, and building high performing teams. He also won third place at the 1996 Sydney Royal Easter Show LEGO building competition.