david west

david west

· Company Website ·
· Spatial and Ontological Dimension of Conway’s Law
· Essential Practices for Understanding Domains: Story and Gemba
· Natural Systems Design and Development


David West has enjoyed a dual, parallel, career as a professional software developer and academic. His professional career started in 1968 (same year the discipline of Software Engineering was invented) as a COBOL and Assembler programmer. He has held almost every job title in the profession since then: Analyst, Architect, and even CIO.

As an academic he has created several innovative programs; introducing object-oriented development to the world’s largest software engineering program to an award winning software apprenticeship program.

His undergraduate education was in Asian Philosophy — his graduate education included an MS in Computer Science, MA in Cultural Anthropology, and a Ph.D. in Cognitive Science.

He is the author of Object Thinking (2006) and co-author with Rebecca Rikner of Design Thinking (2018). He has also published more than fifty papers on topics ranging from object-orientation to Agile, Patterns, Design, and Complexity.

Spatial and Ontological Dimension of Conway’s Law (Talk)

Conway’s Law argues that systems designed by an organization are constrained to be copies of the communication structure of that organization. Nearly all developers have experience (too frequently bad) with the expression of this law in their own organizations.

Few realize that Conway’s Law has corollaries:
1) Designs are constrained to copy the spatial and work areas occupied by the teams developing those designs and the people using those designs once implemented.
2) Designs are constrained by the ontology (metaphysics) underlying the vocabulary and language employed by the teams developing those designs.

This talk will help attendees understand the corollaries to Conway’s Law and how to use that understanding to modify or adapt their own organizations to their advantage. Concrete examples of how the corollaries have helped and hindered projects will be shared.

Essential Practices for Understanding Domains: Story and Gemba (Hands-on)

The use of story has been ubiquitous in software development since the 1970s and “Structured Analysis and Design.” So too has the practice of Gemba (going where the work is). Both tools have been misunderstood, poorly implemented, and often excluded from the process because “management” has failed to see their value.

This hands-on workshop will show why both tools are critical to understanding domains. The presenters will draw on their extensive experience with stories and story telling plus their expertise in ‘participant observation’ (the key tool for cultural anthropologists) to present practical techniques for using story and Gemba.

Participants will gain practice using those techniques in the context of their domain of interest.

BTW: we will also provide an approach for convincing management to let development teams effectively use these techniques.

Natural Systems Design and Development (Workshop)

This is a pre-conference workshop. Click for details.

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