Centre stage with Matthew Skelton, Founder and Head of Consulting at Conflux…
Born – Born and bred in Bradford, with stints in Oxford and
London. Now living in Leeds.
Studied / Education background – Studied computer engineering (Computer
Science and Cybernetics) at University of Reading, then an MSc in Neuroscience
at the University of Oxford. Learned a huge amount working in London.
Current role / bio – Founder and Head of Consulting at
Conflux. I specialise in Continuous Delivery, operability and organisation
design for software in manufacturing, ecommerce, and online services, including
cloud, IoT, and embedded software. I also curate the well-known DevOps team
topologies patterns at devopstopologies.com and I’m co-author of the books
Continuous Delivery with Windows and .NET (O’Reilly, 2016), Team Guide to
Software Operability (Skelton Thatcher Publications, 2016), and Team Topologies
(IT Revolution Press, 2019).
Who do you work for and what does your
Conflux in 2017 to offer high-value training and consulting to organisations
building and running software systems. We work with Execs, IT leaders, and
technical teams to help introduce and embed good practices for modern software
delivery. We focus on Continuous Delivery, software operability, and
organisation dynamics. Our work on Team Topologies in particular has helped
many organisations around the world - including Netflix and Condé Nast
International – to improve the effectiveness of their teams and team
interactions for software delivery. We regularly run training courses in
Continuous Delivery, software operability, IT operations (including SRE and
ITIL), DevOps, and other modern practices. We’ve recently added further
training courses around auxiliary skills like technical writing for blogs,
giving tech talks, and whiteboard sketches; we have companion books for all
What made you choose IT as a career?
interested in how things work all my life, and IT is a nice, complicated
machine! My first job after university was developing software for medical
imaging (MRI) machines, combining my recent study of both Cybernetics and
Neuroscience. I’ve kept an interest in combined hardware-software devices ever
since, developing software for oil & gas devices and more recently IoT
systems. I think that an awareness of how physical systems work really helps
with designing and operating software systems.
What do you think is required to be
successful in IT?
to see “IT” as far more than technology but also the sociotechnical system of
humans and machines. Become an expert in your field, but also develop an
awareness of how the technology in your field is mediated by social dynamics. What’s
been your biggest work achievement of the last 12 months?
I have just co-authored a
book with my colleague Manuel Pais called “Team Topologies” which addresses the
challenges of organisation design for modern fast-flow software delivery. The
book will be published in September 2019 by IT Revolution Press. We’ve had
really good feedback from people so far, and we’re looking forward to sharing
our ideas and approaches with people around the world over the coming months
and years. We cover lots of aspects of modern software development at scale,
1. Why using the “Spotify
Model” of team design is not enough
2. The four fundamental
team topologies needed for modern software delivery
3. The three team
interaction modes that enable fast flow and rapid learning
4. How to address Conway’s
Law, cognitive load, and team evolution with Team Topologies
The book is based on our
work with organisations since 2013 plus research into what other organisations
have found successful. We have case studies from some well-known companies and
we know that people are already using the techniques to improve their
organisations. We expect that organisations around the world will find the
patterns and approaches really useful for sustainable software delivery.
What’s the best piece of advice you have
ever been given?
to others: listen not to respond but to really understand what the other person
What are your predictions for the IT
industry for 2019/20 or beyond?
We will see
high-performing organisations extend their lead over mediocre organisations,
widening the gap between good practice and tired, old practices. We will see
more organisations realise that static team structures are not enough to meet
the dynamic needs of modern organisations.
Join Matthew Skelton at IP EXPO
Manchester, 3-4 April 2019
Model has been very useful to lots of organisations but it’s not enough to
adopt a fixed structure. We need to address team interactions, cognitive load,
and organisation evolution to meet changing business needs. Learn how in my
talk ‘Beyond the Spotify Model at IP EXPO.”