What Is Spotify In Agile?


Author: Artie
Published: 30 Apr 2022

Scaling agility and culture: the case of Spotify

The model of scaling agility is based on people and culture. It has helped increase innovation and productivity by focusing on accountability and quality. A Guild is a community of interest if team members are passionate about a topic.

Anyone can join a guild. Guilds can cross different tribes. There is no leader of the guild.

Someone raises their hand to be the Guild Coordination. The people at Spotify were given as much freedom as possible to pivot quickly. Allowing teams to pick their own development tools and modifying another team's code are just some examples.

Spotify: The New Music Guild

The model consists of a team that does the work. The Squad has a Product Owner who is dedicated to the squad. Chapter members are encouraged to communicate constantly.

Each chapter has their own areas of expertise and they meet regularly to discuss their achievements and challenges. The organization is spread across locations by the Guild. Tools and practices are shared.

The guild can include other members who are interested. Guilds are usually focused on their area of expertise in a generic way. They have mailing lists, newsletters and un conferences.

The flexibility and simplicity of the Spotify Model has made it a popular buzzword. It suggests a community-based networking structure for the organization and focuses on the Agile Principles. It is a very unique and liberating model that requires the practitioners to be very careful and responsible while they are using it, so that it can be tailored for their specific organizational needs.

The Interpersonal Network

The most basic unit of the model is the squad. They are similar to the Agile team in that they are made up of 6 to 12 people working together on a specific feature area. For more efficiency, their work is self-contained, so that progress doesn't get hampered by external tasks.

The tribe is kept in close contact with all relevant stakeholders. Multiple squad work together on related missions and features in the tribes. They can comprise up to 150 members.

They still retain some degree of independence, but are placed under the authority of one or more tribe leads. Tribe leads can be part of a squad. They are responsible for fostering collaboration and teamwork.

Identifying and removing cross-tribe dependencies is one of the main aspects of their work. The chapter lead is usually a senior developer. The other members of the chapter are helped by the latter to become even better specialists.

System owners are responsible for keeping the system sane. If no one works behind the scenes to keep them up and running, their overall coherence may degrade. System owners are people who dedicate time to updating and fixing a system.

The Agile Product Development Service (EPS)

The service was formed in 2008. It started as a Scrum organisation that was successful. The scaleability of the practices and the rigidity of the practices were questioned once the practices were embedded into the organisation.

The Agile principles are a must for the framework. The principles are the pillars that drive the organisation and not the practices or the people. Ensuring that the three pillars are prominently featured in the way the project is done is important to keeping the quality of the product and engaging the whole team on what needs to be done and how.

Everyone within the scrum team is focused on the clear objective - sprint goal. The values are used by all team members to deliver a increment of 'Done'. The values can be achieved with the transparency of the work.

Each squad has its own mission and there is no leader in the squad team. The Agile Coach or Product Owner is the same as the developer. They're skills fit like a glove and they're motivated towards the team success.

Some of the squad teams may be working on a particular service area, while others may be working on infrastructure or delivery. A Chapter is formed by members of a squad in a single tribe with similar skills and tools and is considered the glue that keeps the organisation together. Each chapter will have a leader and members.

The Engineering Culture of the Service

The engineering culture chooses community, trust and motivation over structure and control. The team decides what to build, how to build, and how to cooperate while building it, which is a key to motivating people. squads are cross-functional groups that focus on a specific area.

The squads are made up of 6 to 12 people and have all the skills and tools needed to design, develop, test, and release features. The same purpose is given to guilds and chapters. They both want to promote transparency, alignment, and motivation.

Guilds are where members from any squad, chapter, or tribe can come together to share knowledge. Hackathons are much like workshops, which are usually conducted by guilds. The architecture of the service kept releases independent.

The shift allowed for frequent releases. The squad is able to ship software quickly and with minimal hassle. Teams can improve their ways of working with resources from Spotify.

The Spotify Agile Model: A Community-Based Approach

The Spotify Agile Model is not a product development framework. As it was expanding, it developed a tailored approach to scaling Agile. It focuses on community and trust instead of archaic structures.

Agile product development is more important than scrum practices according to the guiding philosophy when the model was made. The model of the Spotify is different from the one of the Scrum teams. A squad is a small team with less than 8 people.

Each squad should focus on a single feature. Some squad might have several responsibilities. The design, deployment, and maintenance of the product are all under the responsibility of the squad.

Several squad work together on a feature set and are grouped together into tribes. The maximum number of members for a tribe should be 150. Each tribe needs a leader who facilitates coordination across multiple squad.

A guild is a community with interests. The guild is a support structure meant to help the system, so any member is free to leave or join. Knowledge and methods transfer can be done by a guild.

The platform of Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon

Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon founded the platform in Sweden. It went public on April 3rd of 2018, after being launched in October 2008.

The Spotify Team: An Agile Software Engineering Company

The environment that the squad work in is designed to encourage collaboration. Members have access to huddle rooms and shared lounges for private meetings, even though they share the same work area. The ideal company culture is in the top-right corner, where both alignment and autonomy are high, and where the different squad all agree on a common challenge and will each pursue a solution to it to the best of their abilities.

There are many work processes and tools used. Each squad is free to experiment with any method they want, and there is no standard tools to speak of. Good enough is not good enough.

Spotify pushes them to achieve more and find ways to improve their environment and work process, not only because of their praise, but also because of their unique contribution to it. In keeping with the principles of the Agile method, the company believes that releasing new versions of a product should be routine and that it encourages squad to be constantly adding new features to its product. The system they use is based on the concept of release trains.

The former is a company-wide schedule which makes people aware of when the next batches of updates will be implemented, while the latter allows the company to partially or completely hide unfinished features so that they can observe how well it meshes with other features in its current state. Finding ways to ensure failure recovery is something that is encouraged by Spotify. Whenever there is a failure, the squad conducts post-mortems and retrospectives which allow them to capture any learnings from the experience.

Spotify: A CD Player for Agile

A strong foundation is needed for an Agile transformation to be successful. You need a vision that is focused on solving a problem and adding value to the users, as depicted by the roof, to provide purpose for the existence of the organization. The leader is the glue that keeps everything in line.

The first reason for their success is probably the most important one, and it can be found by looking at their CEO and company vision. Daniel Ek, the CEO, was a failed musician and had a guitar and computer at the age of 5. You can only listen to a 60- 90 minute CD on a typical CD, and only if you have a CD player.

You can only listen to the same artists or a variety of artists and songs, not necessarily to your liking. The people and customers give input into the vision, but the leader is the one who should be the one to make the culture work. The culture will be one of micro-management and not taking responsibility if you say that autonomy is important.

You can display the value on walls, cups or screensavers regardless of how many places you go. The processes and tools at Spotify are clear and concise, with nothing final. There is a kind of chaos where the processes are constantly changing.

Towards an Agile Management System

Chapters are being used to allow old, entrenched organizations to change how they operate internally, and more specifically accelerate excellence within the business, and ultimately deliver a better product for the customer. By everyone developing the same skills and capabilities, you will bring the same capability excellence to your squad. The same song was sung from the same book.

There is an alignment between the Squads and Tribes on how things are done. It's tech, finance, marketing, etc. When most organizations start to consider Agile ways of working, they tend to focus on teams.

Towards an Agile Approach to the Cross-functional Collaboration of Organization

Many companies that use the Agile approach find it difficult to scale due to the complexity of their cultures, time zones, locations, and teams. Over the last 10 years, there have been several frameworks introduced to help with scaling Agile. The model is often referred to as the Spotify Model.

A squad is a cross-functional team made up of 6 to 12 individuals that are focused one feature area. Each squad has a unique mission that directs what they do and features an Agile coach for continued support and a product owner for guidance. The framework or methodology of the squad is determined.

The same feature areas are being coordinated by a collection of Squads. The tribes are made up of people from 40 to 150 and are supposed to make sure there is alignment across the squad. All Tribes have Tribe Leads who are tasked with helping to coordinate across all the Squads.

The Bezos and Rothschchild Support of the XYZ Group

The Bezos and Rothschilds that supported the organization are what makes the company inspiring. The model is achieved by having a culture that supports safety, experimentation, learning, trust, and joy at work.

On the symmetries of space-time

It is a question that you can explore. Some call it a framework, some call it an event, and some call it useless. It is an event at the ART level in LeSS, but not necessary.

The Spotify Health Check

The problem is that with the clinical thermometer, you only reach for it when something is not right. The damage has already been done. It takes a lot of time and nerves to correct.

The health check retro is a must for your project and your team. It is a tool to measure and strengthen the culture of a team. You ask the participants for their assessment, green, yellow or red?

What is the tendency of the color? The team or squad should discuss each indicator before giving an assessment. Even during the discussion, you can get more important insights into where you can work together to improve.

Employees will sometimes disagree on the rating. It is quite normal. You can take a vote with points in order to get a tendency and record it in the health check.

Each team member has a vote on whether the indicator is positive, neutral or negative. You take the assessment with the most votes. You can also use other methods to set a score that is appropriate for your project.

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