Technology Leader | People Person

So near yet so Spotify

So recently I came across The Spotify Model for Scaling Agile. Having spent the last 5 years working in Scrum some of the solutions proposed by Spotify really rang true to me. Both the Spotify method and Scrum continue to share a commitment to iterative development, better cross company collaboration, and remove the traditional development silos created by waterfall. They both aim to embrace continuous change and nurture a culture of adaptability. But which one to use?

Spotlight on the Spotify Model

The Spotify Model, inspired by the music industry’s harmonious collaborations, presents a novel approach to Agile implementation. It introduces a structural setup of “Squads,” “Tribes,” and “Guilds,” echoing the interconnected nature of musical ensembles. Squads are self-organising multi disciplined teams centered around specific domains, which harmonise to form Tribes with shared objectives. Guilds transcend across these boundaries, facilitating knowledge sharing and skill refinement.

The Key Strengths:

  • Synergistic Innovation: The dynamic interplay of Squads, Tribes, and Guilds nurtures an environment conducive to idea propagation and interdisciplinary collaboration.
  • Empowerment Through Autonomy: Squads function akin to autonomous units, fostering swift decision-making and adaptability within their respective domains.

And what about SCRUM?

In contrast, the Scrum Methodology is time-tested and renowned for its structured approach. It introduces roles like the Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Development Team, each with clearly defined responsibilities. Time-boxed iterations, referred to as “sprints,” punctuate the development process, supported by ceremonies like Sprint Planning, Daily Stand-ups, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective.

Key Strengths:

  • Role Clarity: The Scrum roles ensure clear demarcation of duties, establishing a hierarchy of responsibilities within the development cycle.
  • Predictability and Accountability: The regular cadence of sprints and ceremonies enhances project predictability and team accountability.

So what are the main differences?

When appraising the strengths of the Spotify Model and the Scrum Methodology, notable distinctions emerge:

  1. Structural Composition:
    • Spotify: Offers fluidity through Squads, Tribes, and Guilds, encouraging a dynamic collaborative environment.
    • Scrum: Upholds a structured setup with established roles and ceremonies, cultivating a disciplined operational approach.
  2. Decision-Making Dynamics:
    • Spotify: Empowers Squads with autonomy, fostering an entrepreneurial spirit, nimble decision-making and innovation.
    • Scrum: Employs a predefined framework, with decisions made collectively by roles within the Scrum Team based on Stakeholder management.
  3. Communication Paradigms:
    • Spotify: Promotes knowledge sharing through Guilds and cross-functional Tribes, fostering a culture of continuous learning.
    • Scrum: Relies on regular ceremonies and engagement of stakeholders to ensure open communication within the Scrum Team.

So how to choose?

While Scrum provides a solid framework and predictability to foster trust with stakeholders and
customers, the Spotify Agile Method doubles down on the Agile principles of adaptability and flexibility.

The choice really of which to use comes down to your organisational context and goals.

Spotify Agile thrives in innovative environments, nurturing collaboration and autonomy, ideal for organizations seeking a dynamic, adaptable culture. It feels a great fit for start-up and scale-up cultures where continuous change as you scale is key.

On the other hand Scrum is tried and tested and excels in creating structure and predictability. It feels ideal for an established company that needs to innovate, but for which disciplined execution is paramount in order to build trust with stakeholders.