• Article
  • Feb.3.2023

Unlocking efficiency and effectiveness with Conway's Law and Jeff Bezos's "Two Pizza Rule"

  • Feb.3.2023
  • Reading time mins

In this insightful blog article, Sundaresen Rungasamy, from our Agile at Scale Practice at Valiantys, explains how Conway’s Law and the “Two Pizza Rule” are key to unlocking efficiency and effectiveness in your organization.


As an Agile Coach, I already knew about Conway’s Law. However, I only recently came across Jeff Bezos’s “Two Pizza Rule” and I decided to write this article to discuss how their combination can be used as a way to optimize an organization.

Conway’s Law states that the structure of an organization will reflect the structure of the systems it creates, and highlights the importance of communication and collaboration between team members. The “Two Pizza Rule”, coined by Jeff Bezos, emphasizes the importance of keeping meetings small and focused in order to maximize efficiency and innovation.

Conway’s Law

Conway’s Law, put forward by Melvin Conway in 1967, states that the structure of an organization will reflect the structure of the systems it creates. It is worth mentioning at this point that he submitted a paper, titled “How do Committees Invent” to the Harvard Business Review, which rejected it due to a lack of proof for the thesis. He then submitted it to Datamation, which was a major IT Magazine at that time (now published online), which published it in 1968.

Conway’s Law is now widely recognized and used. It applies not just to software systems, but to any organization’s approach to solving problems. The law is widely recognized and has been demonstrated through examples such as military services, recreating their organization chart to develop a common weapon system. It has also been applied to the structure of computer hardware, operating systems and applications reflecting the divisions between computer engineers, software developers and users. And it has been used at a research organization when assigning eight people to develop two compilers (with the resulting compilers running in the same number of phases as the number of people assigned to them).

The implications of Conway’s Law are that an organization’s structure can either help or hinder the flow of planned work and, in the worst case, tightly coupled architectures can preclude teams from working independently. Conway posits that the structure of an organization is closely tied to the way it functions. To optimize its value streams, he suggested that organizations should strive for a balance between functional-oriented and market-oriented structures.

Functionally oriented organizations prioritize expertise, division of labor, or cost. They are characterized by a hierarchical management structure, multiple levels of management, and a focus on career growth within a specific field, such as software development or IT operations. While this structure allows for specialized expertise, it can also lead to delays due to hand-offs and the slowing down of work.

Matrix organizations, as the name suggests, attempt to incorporate the best aspects of both functional and market-oriented structures. However, they often have separate management chains for different functions and teams, which can lead to conflicting priorities and difficulty in achieving the goals of either archetype. Market-oriented organizations, on the other hand, place a strong emphasis on delivering value to customers. They have cross-functional teams with a flat management structure and prioritize meeting customer needs and providing value. This structure allows for flexibility and adaptability, but may lack the specialized expertise found in functionally oriented organizations.

It is important to note that each organizational structure has its own strengths and weaknesses and that organizations must take into account their specific needs and goals when choosing an organizational structure. Additionally, organizations should be willing to adapt and evolve their structures as needed to optimize their value streams and meet the demands of the market.

Moreover, based on his observations, he noted that efficient and effective software development depends on communication between designers and developers, product owner and stakeholders, not to mention users and anyone else with an interest, influence or role in the creation process. An organization that recognizes the importance of communication will achieve better results.

We can conclude that Conway’s Law provides compelling evidence for building products and services around small, loosely coupled, cross-functional teams. It improves collaboration, communication and coordination among team members, and allows faster, secure delivery in the context of a much larger system. Furthermore, this structure ensures that all team members have a shared understanding of the system. It enables the team to act autonomously, make the most out of the feedback they receive, and enables team members to gain leadership experience. 

The Jeff Bezos “Two Pizza Rule”

The “Two Pizza Rule” is a principle coined by Jeff Bezos, the founder and former CEO of Amazon, to run efficient meetings. In 2013, he sent a message to his shareholders explaining how the “Two Pizza Rule” can help to minimize a team’s size and increase the chances of employees standing out with their innovative ideas and creating better solutions for businesses.

The “Two Pizza Rule” states that a meeting should never have more attendees than can be fed with two pizzas. The idea behind this rule is that smaller meetings are typically more productive and effective than larger ones, as each team member can express their ideas and avoid discussing irrelevant topics. Thus, their opinions are not overlooked, fostering more open and honest communication among members present, as there is less pressure to conform to the opinions of a larger group.

The goal is to increase employee engagement, enhance motivation and make each one feel valued.

The question is how big is a “Two Pizzas” team?

The “Two Pizza Rule”, suggests that the ideal group size for a meeting should not exceed ten participants. However, some experts argue that the ideal team size should be between four and nine members, as this allows for more participation from each team member and makes it easier for the team leader to manage the group effectively.

How does the “Two Pizza Rule” compare with Conway’s Law?

The “Two Pizza Rule” and Conway’s Law approach the issue from slightly different angles, but both relate to the organization of teams within an organization. Conway’s Law emphasizes that an organization that recognizes the importance of communication and fosters it in its structure will see better results in software development, whereas the “Two Pizza Rule” emphasizes the importance of clear communication, but mainly focuses on the idea that smaller teams are better for getting things done.

Additionally, the “Two Pizza Rule” is more focused on the size of a team, whereas Conway’s Law is more focused on the structure and communication within an organization. The “Two Pizza Rule” suggests that, by keeping teams small, it allows for more effective communication and decision-making, while Conway’s Law suggests that by aligning the structure and communication within an organization to the goals and objectives of the company, it will lead to better results in software development. Both principles are important to consider when building and organizing teams within an organization.


In conclusion, both Conway’s Law and the “Two Pizza Rule” are vital for building a productive and successful team within an organization. While they have different focuses, they can be used together to enhance the organization’s structure, communication, and collaboration. By implementing Conway’s Law, organizations can structure their teams to optimize communication, collaboration, and value delivery. While following the “Two Pizza Rule”, they can ensure that meetings are small and focused, promoting the participation of each team member and the emergence of new ideas. Additionally, by creating a structure that prioritizes cross-functional teams that are loosely coupled and autonomous, organizations can improve their chances of delivering value to customers in order to achieve their goals. All in all, by applying both rules, teams can work more efficiently and effectively, resulting in better products and services.

Find out how Valiantys can help you achieve the results you need: www.valiantys.com

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