How does the organizational structure of an entrepreneurial company affect the product

March 2, 2017

editor’s note: the author Tomasz Tunguz is a red dot investment company (Redpoint Ventures) partner, he introduced the "Conway s Law" in this paper "(Conway’s law).

1967, Harvard Business Review rejected a paper submitted by Mel Conway. A year later, Conway’s paper was eventually identified as "Conway" s Law "(Conway’s law). Conway received a master’s degree in physics at California Polytechnic, received a doctorate in mathematics at the Case Western Reserve University. After graduation, he participated in a number of well-known software projects, such as the Pascal editor. In his occupation career, Conway observed a phenomenon: the software team to develop the product is a reflection of the company’s organizational structure.


: the organization chart of major technology companies.

next, let’s take a closer look at the concept. Usability expert Nigel Bevan wrote: "the company’s Web site content and structure reflects the company’s internal problems, rather than the needs of the site." In other words, the marketing team has a web page, the sales team has a web page, the PR team has a web page. The internal structure of the company does not reflect the current situation of the consumer path, but the product structure.

"is put forward in Conway’s law" in software development projects. If there are three front-end engineers in the same project, there are three different ways for a user to complete each task: point to click, keyboard shortcut, menu item. If there are two people in charge of the project in the company, there will be two different source control systems, the code review process, the two different architectures, etc..

2008, Alan MacCormack, JohnRusnak Carliss and Baldwin were studied by using the software developed, and with the community development of open source software to compare and verify the research, "Conway’s law", they co authored a paper published in the "Harvard Business Review".

I’m not sure this law is not the real law, it is not applicable everywhere, but it does raise a question: entrepreneurial team structure is appropriate? For example, most of the rapid development of entrepreneurial companies from creating a separate application (a App server, a a database, a logical layer), eventually forming a micro service architecture, before compression in a code library functions will be divided into dozens or hundreds of different service.

it is said that this is a reflection of the two forces: the size of the engineering team continues to expand; development operations (Devops) rise. During the development phase, the developer is responsible not only for writing code, but also for quality

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