Code Ownership & Conway's Law

Jurgen Desmet invited me for a coffee talk about code ownership and Conway’s Law on his youtube channel.

The description accompanying the video

Sharing experiences, practices, and methods related to shared code ownership and the relation to organisational structures. Or how much should Conway’s law be taken into account.

When simplifying organisational structures one will go against the basics of Conway’s law and will need to lean on the abilities to have shared code ownership. As such a perfect topic to explore more in-depth with one of my Technical mentors in the field: Nelis Boucké.

We’ll address dynamics, mandates, architectures, freedom, going from A to B from an experience point of view. Giving examples on how it has been dealt with, no theories or strong statements here. Pure experience samples.

The video itself


  • 00:00​ Introduction to the topics
  • 00:45​ Who’s Nelis?
  • 01:50​ Advantages and disadvantages of shared code and code ownership
  • 02:52​ The dynamics of Platform Teams & Application Teams
  • 06:20​ Mandates versus Engagement & motivation
  • 07:11​ Shared code ownership example maintaining coding freedom within a single squad/team
  • 07:54​ Domain models as bounded context and supporting practice to keep a high level of freedom for structural changes
  • 09:18​ A single backlog for a multitude of squads to enable shared code ownership with a high feature focus
  • 12:00​ What about less good architectural structures and code ownership?
  • 13:08​ Pairing & Mobbing (Ensemble) as practice to grow a different mindset and adopting a more appropriate architecture
  • 14:54​ Pressure to deliver versus pair & mob sessions?
  • 16:54​ What about having an identity and ownership? Ownership in building versus ownership in production and changing team (members)
  • 19:20​ Explicit learning moments versus coordination costs
  • 20:44​ Architecture Decision Records and socialising decisions
  • 21:27​ Innovation afternoons
  • 22:24​ Conclusions on Conway’s Law & Code Ownership
  • 24:40​ Expanding on Architecture and misconceptions on micro services


The trigger for this conversion was a LinkedIn conversation: