Spotify Engineering Culture (part 1)

Here’s a short animated video describing Spotify’s engineering culture (also posted on Spotify’s blog).

This is a journey in progress, not a journey completed, and there’s a lot of variation from squad to squad. So the stuff in the video isn’t all true for all squads all the time, but it appears to be mostly true for most squads most of the time :o)

Part 2 hasn’t been recorded yet. Stay tuned.

21 Comments

  • 1
    March 27, 2014 - 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Great video and content.

    May I ask what tool for the animations you use, these little videos are excellent and I would love to create something similar.

    Alex

  • 2
    March 27, 2014 - 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Intuos 5 drawing tablet + Art Rage + Screenflow

  • 3
    March 28, 2014 - 1:51 am | Permalink

    This is phenomenal – thnx for putting this out there, Henrik. Bring on part 2…

  • 4
    Ruby
    March 28, 2014 - 5:51 pm | Permalink

    I doubt this can scale for a 10,000 employee organization. You will start seeing problems as you grow.

    • 5
      March 28, 2014 - 10:19 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, we’ve had problems all along, and we just have to keep evolving and adapting as we bump into new types of problems. But as long as we can retain the healthy culture it should help us grow without adding too much bureaucracy.

  • 6
    Ed Sumerfield
    March 30, 2014 - 3:51 pm | Permalink

    We are working through a similar change at IPC. The cultural ideas map very closely. We only have a 50 person IT group so our solutions don’t require the scale you have.

    The latest change is around how a single team (squad) manages their workflow. One team that is too large, broken into 4 workstreams, has challenges keeping the build green, so we have identified a Guide role to focus on code quality and pre-push testing.

    We already have the “monolithic app” problem you mentioned so some architectural changes need to come next.

  • 7
    April 1, 2014 - 12:10 am | Permalink

    This is excellent! I am looking forward to part 2. I sent it on to the boss of our agile coaches and it’s been making the rounds through email at our company. We are desperately in need of scaled agile for our “fat” IT department.

  • 8
    April 1, 2014 - 12:16 am | Permalink

    […] This excellent video was posted on an Agile blog that I follow: Crisp’s Blog. […]

  • 9
    Khushru Doctor
    April 1, 2014 - 2:09 am | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing. This is a real good lesson to a lot of organizations and IT leaders who want more control.

  • 10
    Khushru Doctor
    April 1, 2014 - 2:11 am | Permalink

    Where is the Part 2

  • 11
    Bobby
    April 2, 2014 - 12:38 am | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing. The Spotify story is amazing to watch… particularly keen on how Spotify have evolved their culture…

  • 12
    Håkan Rudelius
    April 3, 2014 - 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Great video! I sent it to the whole IT department and the feedback has been great. One team even spent 13 minutes this morning watching it together!

  • 13
    Alex
    April 7, 2014 - 7:24 am | Permalink

    The video and ideas are great. Thank you for publishing them.

    I am curious how does all this fit with Spotify’s annual employee review process (if there is one). At the end of the day when it is time to get a raise or promotion, do managers rank all their employees against each other? How does your agile process deal with performance management?

    • 14
      April 7, 2014 - 9:43 pm | Permalink

      Hi, I can’t give you a detailed answer at the moment. But I can say that we don’t have an annual employee review process, and we definitely don’t rank employees against each other.

    • 15
      June 21, 2014 - 6:16 pm | Permalink

      Alex,

      Performance reviews, stack ranking, performance management – these are all things that promote fear and introduce distortion into systems. Focus on making the system better – continual improvement, and focus on hiring people who care and share your values, and you won’t need those things. A study of Deming’s management philosophy will help you grok why this is so powerful. Read The New Economics for a good start.

  • 16
    Fernando
    April 8, 2014 - 11:19 pm | Permalink

    Hi Henrik, I’ve enoyed very much the video. It’s great to see the importance you give to agile values and principles.

    I have just one question, How does a chapter lead coaches the other members of the chapter if he is algo working on a squad. Or, how much time does the chapter leader works on his chapter and how much on his squad.

    Thank you!

  • 17
    April 17, 2014 - 3:45 am | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing Henrik!

    The squads/tribes piece is really interesting. Our transformation over the past couple years went like:

    1 megateam
    1 ui team, 1 services team
    2 ui teams, 1 services team
    1 ui team, 1 services team, 1 ops team

    Now our UI team is too big, but we like the sharing of the things we do and “feeling in the loop”. The reason we went from 2 teams back to 1 is because we felt our processes were diverging, and we weren’t in sync. It’s good to know this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

    I think the next step for us may be to consider “tribes” and form smaller squads that are able to focus better on stuff, rather than clinging on to “knowing it all”.

    Looking forward to video 2!

  • 18
    Victor H Certuche
    April 18, 2014 - 2:05 am | Permalink

    Excellent presentation (content and delivery), cannot wait for Part 2….

  • 19
    April 23, 2014 - 4:08 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing this great video, Henrik! Looking forward to part 2…

  • 20
    May 22, 2014 - 10:17 am | Permalink

    […] Länk till film om agilt;  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=502ILHjX9EE En länk om kulturen på Spotify ; http://blog.crisp.se/2014/03/27/henrikkniberg/spotify-engineering-culture-part-1 […]

  • 21
    Hugo Villeneuve
    May 30, 2014 - 1:43 am | Permalink

    Well we rarely see such a visually appealing presentation combined with amazing and high-quality content.
    This is powerful stuff for all type organisation. I am surprised Spotify share this information with such a level of detail. Quike a contribution to the community.

    I might present this video to our upper management before the next re-org (Banking industries, 40K employees, 1.5K developers).

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