People ask me about this, so I figured I’d write something.
NOTE: Although I was at Spotify for around 8 years, I‘m not familiar with how every area worked and I have my own biases, preferences, etc. AND things change
I will define “Spotify Model” as any concept or practice mentioned in the Spotify Engineering Culture videos. I’m only covering part 1 in this post.
Agile > Scrum
Spotify was mostly Scrum in the early years (before my time, so I can’t confirm this) but shifted to a more general Agile approach. There was no requirement for standard Scrum practices nor are there any Scrum Masters anymore, as far as I’m aware.
This principle reflected a general expectation of responsibility on autonomous teams. This still holds and I agree with it.
Having said that, I sometimes found what Squads chose for themselves to be sub-optimal and slower than I would have liked if I was actually on the Squad myself.
I think originally, there was a valid assumption that Squads had enough Agile background to make pretty good calls. As Spotify, and really the overall industry, has grown, there are more and more people with a shallow or warped understanding of Agile.
Agile > Scrum? Yes, BUT don’t assume that everyone has the same understanding of what “Agile” means.
“Squads” at Spotify are not a synonym for “team” but specifically a cross-disciplinary, autonomous, product development team. Marty Cagan calls this an Empowered Product Team.
Every Squad has a mission but is responsible for deciding what to build, how to build it, and how to work together to accomplish the mission.
Common mistakes I saw with some Squads:
- Seeing autonomy as a benefit “we get to do whatever we feel like!” rather than as a responsibility “we are both authorised and expected to do what is necessary to accomplish the mission”;
- Missing that Squad responsibility includes coordinating or collaborating with other Squads as necessary;
- Insufficient cross-pollination amongst Squads leading to unnecessary variation and relearning;
- Missing context for how the Squad’s mission fits within broader strategy — which can lead…