Concepts I use every day: BAPO

Jason Yip
Nerd For Tech
Published in
3 min readJul 4, 2021

Because org structure change can get messy, there’s a tendency to have structure drive strategy

Changing org structure can be messy

There are several reasons why org structure changes can get messy:

  • Changing org structure can mean changing managers. Given “people leave managers, not companies”, the org structure change can trigger problems including departures;
  • Changing org structure typically means responsibilities are re-allocated. People are no longer responsible for work they used to be responsible for and/or they are now responsible for work that they might not want to do. This can lead to disengagement or even departures;
  • From the manager side, changing org structure can mean more or less direct reports. This can mean overwork with too many reports and contexts to stay on top of. This can mean status threat and political jockeying with too few reports;

Organisation constrains architecture; architecture constrains strategy

“Any organization that designs a system (defined broadly) will produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization’s communication structure.”

Melvin E. Conway

Conway’s law is an observation that technical architectures tend to mirror the organisation structure.

Architecture constrains strategy. You can’t pretend that teams are operating autonomously on distinct goals when all their activities require modifying the same coupled technical architecture.

“Autonomous” teams working on a shared monolith

Therefore structure drives architecture which drives strategy?

So typically, org structure drives the appropriate technical architecture, and the technical architecture constrains what’s considered for product strategy.

There is a logic to this… and it relies on an assumption that the larger business/product context should care about your internal…

Jason Yip
Nerd For Tech

Senior Manager Product Engineering at Grainger. Extreme Programming, Agile, Lean guy. Ex-Spotify, ex-ThoughtWorks, ex-CruiseControl