There is a lot of useful methods of managing the workflow; the Kanban Method is one of the most popular and effective ones. However, with its over 1,600 employees, Spotify company can be really proud of using the Agile scaling method. In fact, it is not a method which can be easily implied in every company, as (just like trying to install Microsoft Office) it requires a shift in thinking in regards to the whole idea of your business, your relationship with employers, employees, and anyone else who is a part of your structure. Squads, Tribes, Chapters and Guilds are a fascinating example of Spotify’s engineering culture.
Spotify’s Past With Scrum
Spotify was launched in 2008, when their first music player was presented to the public, and they used the Scrum method to manage their employees. In time, when Spotify gained more fans and became more popular, the company decided to make the Scrum practices optional, as Agile principles are more important than any Scrum rules.
A Squad – The Smallest Unit
A Squad is the smallest group of people, which is usually no bigger than 8 members. They are responsible for one key area, such as maintenance, operations, design, tests, release, production etc. The Squad members have end-to-end responsibility and the team has one long-term task at a time. The freedom of their choices and decisions is limited by the company’s mission and by the product strategy. The workplace is prepared to make the Squad’s work the most effective. The whole group works together and they can access their screens easily; furthermore, all the walls in their office are covered with whiteboards. Nearby, there is a lounge where a planning session can take place. The Product Owner decides on the hierarchy of priorities for Squad members. They are responsible for small and frequent releases.
The crucial thing about Spotify’s work is autonomy, which gives people motivation and a fresh approach to create new things. The decision-making process which takes place in a Squad is immediate because no-one has to wait long for decisions from their managers. Everyone who works in Spotify follows the company’s mission and this affects the strategy of an individual Squad.
Alignment Over Authority
High alignment and autonomy give the leaders the opportunity to identify a problem that has to be solved, as well as why, and it is the team’s responsibility to provide the best solution possible. Squads naturally collaborate with each other. What every Squad should care the most about is Spotify’s mission.
A Tribe – The Grouped Squads
Squads work on similar tasks, such as solutions for smartphones, tablets, Apple or Android software. What all these squads have in common is they all work on mobile versions and this common factor makes a few squads a tribe. There is less than 100 people in each tribe. A Tribe Leader is responsible for managing tasks; however, this person is still a Squad member and has to fulfill everyday duties.
A Chapter – The Specialists
Each Squad has professionals which specialize in certain areas. All these people, who have the same responsibilities in separate Squads, are gathered in a group called a Chapter. A Chapter lead is a line manager here. Everyone is a member of both a Squad and Chapter.
A Guild – An Informal Structure
Spotify has a separate structure that allows their employers to gather according to their interests, tools, knowledge, etc. People from any Squad, Tribe and Chapter can join and leave anytime and, therefore, a lot of communities exist that have the power to integrate and share valuable knowledge. A Guild has a Guild Co-ordinator.
Trust And Failure Policy
Spotify relies on trust more than control. What is more, to improve the Spotify’s product mistakes and failures are a must but everyone has to draw conclusions out of it. This kind of approach allows improvement and minimizes fear within the employees to try their ideas.
The Users Of Agile
The ING Group is a banking and financial services corporation that has its headquarters in the Netherlands. In 2015 they implied, as the first bank, “The ING Way Of Working” which is based strongly on Agile methodology and they implied Squads, Tribes, Chapters and the Centres Of Expertise. What is more, a Polish e-commerce company Divante also uses Agile methodology.