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The Spotify Model

February 11, 2020

I got introduced to the Agile Spotify Model recently when my manager asked me to present it to our group meeting. I found the two popular videos that Henrik Kniberg created in 2014 and posted on the Spotify blog (part 1 and part 2). That’s six years ago, but the idea is still inspiring.

The most striking thing about the model to me is that it seemed that in the Spotify engineering culture, working with other people is pleasant, because, supposedly, there is no ego and everyone helps one another to succeed. In the long years of my working life, I’ve actually yet to be in a workplace where this is happening.

ego

Well, I had to pause there for a minute and look back at my previous jobs, starting from when I was still in the Philippines and teaching chemistry. Nope. Everyone seemed to be on their own. When I was in graduate school, uhm, nope. That’s actually the time when I felt like I was on my own. I don’t know how I survived. But maybe just those small little things that worked in the background for me, the small little actions of my co-workers kept me afloat. The fact that I didn’t get abused as a graduate student is an amazing feat already. So I’ll drink to that. I keep hearing these horror stories. Stories these days make you feel like, you know, things could have been better if this so and so was looking out for you. You’ve been short-changed. Things like these. But no, I think things worked out for me in the end, even if at one moment in time, it didn’t look like things are not going to work out. Situations are not static.

Anyways, I learned a lot from presenting the concept of Agile at Spotify. It really takes a village to do something great. It’s not the smarts that can make or break you. It’s whether you’re a nice person. Ok, yeah, add in the smarts. But I think if you one is smart, he/she should be nice. To survive. Because, it’s a no man’s land.

It’s probably high time to look at myself, and see if I had made my other co-workers’ lives a little better. I might have been thinking more about myself, what I can get, what I can take. What have I been doing?

Another thing that struck me was the push for a minimum viable bureaucracy. Spotify does not like chaos (who does?) but they don’t like being too structured either. Being in any of these two extremes is wasteful. It reminds me of the chemistry concepts of enthropy. There’s low energy to get to a chaotic state. But it takes a lot of energy to maintain an ordered state.

mvb

Next, I really like the idea of solving problems by really taking a look at the data. It’s what’s called data-driven decisions. Duh!

Lastly, I also like the practice of agreeing about the definition of “awesome”.

Now, I just need to apply these in my life. And anywhere else they are applicable.