Is There A “Spotify Model” In The Agile Space?


Tribes? Has anyone heard about guilds, tribes, chapters and squads?


This is the model that Spotify uses. They developed it for themselves because it really works for them. You will find it now being touted in many of the key consulting firms globally as the “Spotify Model” for “Agile” software development. They have sold one of our local financial organizations in Corporate Canada, to incorporate this model into their organization. This organization paid a lot for the consulting, and it is not working well at all for them. Lars, one of the creators of this model said at a recent Software User’s conference, please do not call this the “Spotify Model.” It works for us because of our unique organizational culture, but in most likelihood, it will not work for any other organization. But, we in Information Technology, who so want to find the right formula (prescriptive methodology) figure if this worked for someone else it will work for me. Not so! And Lars was emphatic about this.

From what Lars was saying last year, they still use it but are continually adapting and modifying it as their environment changes. They are a very “agile” organization as it was started back in the day by a group that was very immersed in Scrum. They had brought in a number of Agile SME’s to help them grow. including Jeff Sutherland. Jeff talks about this every once-in-a-while. They are a very mature Agile organization. As a matter of fact, in 2012/2013, they wrote the Spotify Agile Manifesto, since they felt the Original Agile Manifesto was not specific enough for their organization.

Here is an interesting quote from someone deeply involved with Spotify back in 2018, ………”When people copy the ‘Spotify model’, it often happens through a top-down directive, without taking a close look at what kind of culture and leadership is needed to make it work. Often the existing hierarchy is changed into a new, static matrix blueprint (even if the matrix is labeled with Squads, Chapters, and Tribes), instead of growing a culture of continuous participatory change. This will inevitably make things worse. Even people who work at Spotify recommend to not copy their model.”

Actually, any agile framework requires a look at the organization and it’s structure. Agile is not just about bringing in another methodology for the programmers. Especially when an organization is looking at a “Scaling Framework.” As an Agile coach and advisor, I deal with this continually. If you feel you need to go in the direction of using a Scaled Agile Framewor, i.e. Safe, Scrum@Scalr, Disciplined Agile, LESS, Nexus, etc., first of all ensure you have some mature scrum teams. Otherwise, and I will say this bluntly, youhave a 99% chance of absolute failure. This is not from ant statictics, this comes from my 15+ years of total immersion in the Agile Space.

I will blog much more on this in the near future.

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