Concepts I use every day: BAPO

Jason Yip
Jason Yip
Jul 4 · 3 min read

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:

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 organisational problems.

It’s the wrong problem but it’s what our technology and org is designed for

“Structure drives strategy” is an inside-out way of thinking.

BAPO: Business → Architecture → Process → Organisation

“Unless structure follows strategy, inefficiency results.”

Alfred D. Chandler Jr.

“Strategy drives structure” is an outside-in way of thinking. BAPO is Jan Bosch’s expression of “strategy drives structure”.

Structure Eats Strategy — Software Driven World (janbosch.com)

Business (or product) strategy drives technical Architecture which drives Process (aka ways of working) which drives Organisation structure.

Reality is messier and more iterative but this general direction of “what drives what” makes sense.

NOTE: I typically use Product Strategy → Technical Architecture → Ways of Working → Org Structure but it doesn’t have a pronounceable acronym.

BAPO step-by-step

(Again, reality is messier and more iterative)

References

See also

Nerd For Tech

From Confusion to Clarification

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NFT is an Educational Media House. Our mission is to bring the invaluable knowledge and experiences of experts from all over the world to the novice. To know more about us, visit https://www.nerdfortech.org/.

Jason Yip

Written by

Jason Yip

Senior Agile Coach at Spotify, ex-ThoughtWorks, ex-CruiseControl

Nerd For Tech

NFT is an Educational Media House. Our mission is to bring the invaluable knowledge and experiences of experts from all over the world to the novice. To know more about us, visit https://www.nerdfortech.org/.