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Socio-Technical Smells: How Technical Problems Cause Organizational Friction

Adam Tornhill | GOTO Copenhagen 2023

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Successful software development requires that you keep code and people in balance so that one supports the other. It's a hard challenge since a piece of code doesn't reveal anything about its socio-technical context. Enter behavioral code analysis, an approach which combines code level metrics with data on how teams interact within the code. Armed with these techniques, we look to reduce organizational friction by focusing on a set of common challenges:

  • Identify architectural coordination bottlenecks and understand the technical root causes.
  • Visualize implicit dependencies between teams, act to decouple teams.
  • Discover knowledge risks by measuring the Truck Factor. Learn how to mitigate it.
  • Communicate the scaling risks inherent in Brooks's Law by showing data on how it impacts your delivery.
  • Go beyond technical impact by knowing how bad code causes unhappiness, low morale, and increased attrition.

All techniques are demonstrated with examples from real-world codebases. If you are a senior developer, software architect, or technical lead, this presentation will change how you view code. So join in to learn why technical decisions are never merely technical, and how you can stay a step ahead by preventing socio-technical smells.

About the speakers

Adam Tornhill
Adam Tornhill

Founder and CTO at CodeScene Programmer, psychologist, Lisp hacker, speaker and author of several books including "Your Code as a Crime Scene"