Team Topologies

Organizing Business and Technology Teams for Fast Flow

Matthew Skelton, Manuel Pais

Publisher: IT Revolution Press, 2019, 216 pages

ISBN: 978-1-942788-81-2

Keywords: Leadership, Human Resources

Last modified: Sept. 28, 2020, 2:19 p.m.

Effective software teams are essential for any organization to deliver value continuously and sustainably.

Team Topologies provides a practical, step-by-step, adaptive model for organizational design and team interaction, treating teams as the fundamental means of delivery, where team structures and communication pathways are able to evolve with technological and organizational maturity.

In Team Topologies, IT consultants Matthew Skelton and Manuel Pais present a major step forward in organizational design for software. Using case studies and industry examples, they showcase a well-defined way for teams to interact and interrelate that helps make the resulting software architecture clearer and more sustainable, turning inter-team problems into valuable signals for the self-steering organization.

  1. Part I: Teams as the Means of Delivery
    1. The Problem with Org Charts
      • Communication Structures of an Organization
      • Team Topologies: A New Way of Thinking about Teams
      • The Revival of Conway’s Law
      • Cognitive Load and Bottlenecks
      • Summary: Rethink Team Structures, Purpose, and Interactions
    2. Conway’s Law and Why It Matters
      • Understanding and Using Conway’s Law
      • The Reverse Conway Maneuver
      • Software Architectures that Encourage Team-Scoped Flow
      • Organization Design Requires Technical Expertise
      • Restrict Unnecessary Communication
      • Beware: Naive Uses of Conway’s Law
      • Summary: Conway’s Law Is Critical for Efficient Team Design in Tech
    3. Team-First Thinking
      • Use Small, Long-Lived Teams as the Standard
      • Good Boundaries Minimize Cognitive Load
      • Design “Team APIs” and Facilitate Team Interactions
      • Warning: Engineering Practices Are Foundational
      • Summary: Limit Teams’ Cognitive Load and Facilitate Team Interactions to Go Faster
  2. Part II: Team Toplogies That Work for Flow
    1. Static Team Topologies
      • Team Anti-Patterns
      • Design for Flow of Change
      • DevOps and the DevOps Topologies
      • Successful Team Patterns
      • Considerations When Choosing a Topology
      • Use DevOps Topologies to Evolve the Organization
      • Summary: Adopt and Evolve Team Topologies that Match Your Current Context
    2. The Four Fundamental Team Topologies
      • Stream-Aligned Teams
      • Enabling Teams
      • Complicated-Subsystem Teams
      • Platform Teams
      • Avoid Team Silos in the Flow of Change
      • A Good Platform Is “Just Big Enough”
      • Convert Common Team Types to the Fundamental Team Topologies
      • Summary: Use Loosely Coupled, Modular Groups of Four Specific Team Types
    3. Choose Team-First Boundaries
      • A Team-First Approach to Software Responsibilities and Boundaries
      • Hidden Monoliths and Coupling
      • Software Boundaries or “Fracture Planes”
      • Real-World Example: Manufacturing
      • Summary: Choose Software Boundaries to Match Team Cognitive Load
  3. PART III: Evolving Team Interactions for Innovation and Rapid Delivery
    1. Team Interaction Modes
      • Well-Defined Interactions Are Key to Effective Teams
      • The Three Essential Team Interaction Modes
      • Team Behaviors for Each Interaction Mode
      • Choosing Suitable Team Interaction Modes
      • Choosing Basic Team Organization
      • Choose Team Interaction Modes to Reduce Uncertainty and Enhance Flow
      • Summary: Three Well-Defined Team Interaction Modes
    2. Evolve Team Structures with Organizational Sensing
      • How Much Collaboration Is Right for Each Team Interaction?
      • Accelerate Learning and Adoption of New Practices
      • Constant Evolution of Team Topologies
      • Combining Teams Topologies for Greater Effectiveness
      • Triggers for Evolution of Team Topologies
      • Self Steer Design and Development
      • Summary: Evolving Team Topologies
    • Conclusion: The Next-Generation Digital Operating Model
      • Four Team Types and Three Interaction Modes
      • Team-First Thinking: Cognitive Load, Team API, Team-Sized Architecture
      • Strategic Application of Conway’s Law
      • Evolve Organization Design for Adaptability and Sensing
      • Team Topologies Alone Are Not Sufficient for IT Effectiveness
      • Next Steps: How to Get Started with Team Topologies