Chapter 16. Developing Communication Patterns

Travis Donia

Organizations which design systems are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations.

—Conway’s Law, Melvin Conway

Your job as a manager is to help your team work together effectively. Because the challenge is bigger than any one person, what your team ships will reflect the communication that happens. By developing communication patterns within and around your team, you’ll improve what you ship. Here are some ideas on how to begin:

Be a good listener
First, you need to understand what communication patterns are established, so look for the conversations that are already happening. Who is talking to whom, and what about? This will take time. At the beginning, the team won’t automatically trust you and might be guarded. Respect that. To build trust, you’ll need to be present whenever you’re asked for and prove yourself as an active, empathetic, and useful listener. As you build trust, you’ll be let in to more conversations. The same is true for communication outside your team. As you work with other parts of your company, you’ll identify the conversations you have a stake in, and you can earn the trust to be invited in the future.
Look ahead
You can further earn the team’s trust and make it more efficient by anticipating the questions it will have. For instance, ...

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