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The Power of Software: Shaping Organisations Through Inverse Conway's Law

In the world of software development, there's a well-known adage called Conway's Law, which states that organisations design software that reflects their own structure. This principle underscores the profound influence of human interactions on the software we create. However, there's another side to this story – the intriguing concept known as Inverse Conway's Law.

The Mirror Effect

Conway's Law points out that the structure of our organisations inevitably seeps into the software we build. Think about your organisation's website, for instance. It often mirrors the internal concerns of the company rather than addressing the actual needs of users. This results in websites that are complex, disjointed, and far from user-friendly.

But websites are just the tip of the iceberg. The implications of Conway's Law extend beyond web design and into the very heart of all business software, especially as we contemplate a transition to circular economy approaches.


Circular Economy and Software

In the era of sustainability and circular economies, we face a pertinent question: Can our existing business software, primarily designed for linear economy models, accommodate circularity effectively? Does the software itself limit our options for embracing sustainable practices? 

This is where Inverse Conway's Law comes into play. In contrast to Conway's Law, which posits that an organisation's structure influences its software design, Inverse Conway's Law asserts the intriguing idea that the structure and design choices made during software development can, in fact, reshape the organisation. This inversion highlights the dynamic, reciprocal relationship between software development and organisational structure, emphasizing how the two can mutually shape each other. It's not just a one-way street; it's a dynamic and transformative relationship.


Real-World Insights

Many have witnessed how software features, functionalities, and even the terminology we use can mould how people within an organisation work and communicate. Software isn't just a tool; it's a catalyst for change.


A Dual Responsibility

Understanding Inverse Conway's Law reminds us that software teams bear a dual responsibility. It's not just about modelling the business and creating software to meet requirements. It's about recognizing the transformative potential of software on people and businesses alike.

As software creators, we have the power to shape not only the digital realm but also the very fabric of our organisations. We must be cognizant of this two-way relationship, guiding our software choices to align with our organisational goals and values.


Circular Economy Software: A Vision of Tomorrow

This concept also invites us to envision software that embeds circular economy thinking at its core. Such software could revolutionize how businesses operate, making sustainability an intrinsic part of their DNA. Imagine systems that not only facilitate circularity but actively drive it forward, paving the way for a more sustainable and interconnected future.


Tech-Driven Circular Economy Companies: Examples

Now, let's delve into how tech-driven circular economy companies align their technology choices with Inverse Conway's Law:


Digital Platforms for Collaboration with FLOOW2

FLOOW2 utilizes a digital platform and technology to connect businesses and individuals, enabling them to share resources, exchange materials, and collaborate more efficiently. Listen to our podcast episode with FLOOW2 co-founder Lieke van Kerkhoven.

Data Analytics for Sustainability with iPoint

iPoint leverages data analytics and AI to assist businesses in assessing and improving their sustainability and circularity performance. Listen to our podcast episode with iPoint CEO Joerg Walden.

Digital Materials Passporting with Madaster

Madaster specializes in materials passporting, digitally documenting information about materials used in construction projects. Listen to our podcast episode with Madaster co-founder Pablo van den Bosch.

HVAC-as-a-Service with Kaer

Kaer offers HVAC solutions as a service, utilizing technology to monitor and manage HVAC systems remotely. Listen to our podcast episode with Kaer's Customer Success Lead, Dave Mackerness.

Compliance and Reporting Software with Circular IQ

Circular IQ provides software for product compliance and sustainability reporting. Recently, thanks to their  CTI tool ASUS increased its laptop circularity to 65%. Listen to our podcast episode with Circular IQ co-founder Roy Vercoulen.

Waste Management Innovation with Dsposal

Dsposal is a waste management company that leverages technology to improve waste disposal and recycling processes. Listen to our podcast episode with Dsposal founders Tom Passmore and Sophie Walker.


In each of these examples, the choice of technology, software architecture, and digital platform design can influence how teams within these companies collaborate, communicate, and coordinate their efforts. By aligning technology decisions with their circular economy objectives, these companies can shape organisational structures to better support sustainability goals and promote circular practices. This alignment between technology and organisational structure exemplifies what we mean by Inverse Conway's Law.

To bring it all together, Inverse Conway's Law teaches us that software is not a passive tool but a dynamic force that can mould organisations and catalyse change. By recognizing this power and embracing it responsibly, we can harness the true potential of software in the pursuit of a more sustainable, circular, and innovative future.

About the author

Jana Pialkova

Hi, I'm Jana Pialkova, a versatile professional with a passion for sustainability and a knack for juggling multiple roles. As a Team Assistant, I wear many hats, from finance and marketing to handling administrative tasks. My diverse skill set allows me to support my team effectively and contribute to our success. In the world of finance, I help keep the numbers in check, ensuring smooth financial operations and resource management. When it comes to marketing, I bring creativity and strategy to the table, helping to promote our mission and connect with our audience.

But it doesn't stop there. My heart truly belongs to the planet, and I'm a staunch advocate for the circular economy. I believe that every little effort counts, and I'm dedicated to finding sustainable solutions in all aspects of our work.

Outside the office, you'll often find me exploring new corners of the world, immersing myself in a good book, and savouring the simple pleasures of life over a cup of coffee. I firmly believe that a well-rounded life leads to better creativity and productivity.
Let's work together towards a greener, more sustainable future. Feel free to reach out—I'm always up for a chat about sustainability, travel, or the latest book recommendations!