You know, sometimes I think sharing anything about the Spotify model with someone new to Agile or Scrum can cause more harm than good.
A friend of mine forwarded an article to me last week and asked my opinion about what was being shared. The article was written by a Spotify product manager who experimented with taking an Agile team and removing the agile practices that they had been utilizing to see what would happen. That’s right, they quit facilitating all of the events that are outlined in the Scrum framework. Those results validate something that I have felt should occur with a Scrum team. Over time, by following the framework, the members of a Scrum team will become better at collaboration, planning, and delivery of value. My theory is that, as they become better communicators and collaborators, the team’s reliance on the Scrum framework will change as long as they continue to live by the values of Scrum.
This might sound appealing to many. Some of the statements I have heard include:
- “Trust the team and they will figure it out.”
- “We don’t know stinking Scrum.”
- “We should just move to the Spotify model of software development.”
My concern is one of Context. Maybe it is better stated as Lack of Context. What’s missing is the context of where the team was at the time the changes were introduced.
Spotify was founded in April 2006 and had adopted Scrum early in their journey. Yet, they had encountered some scaling problems as the number of teams grew. They brought in Henrik Kniberg, who helped Spotify embrace the Agile mindset by taking their experiences with Scrum and adding in practices from other Agile practices and frameworks to develop what has become known as the Spotify model. Essentially, Spotify moved past Scrum to achieve a higher level of Agile. Even today, the Spotify model is not even fully used within Spotify.
I like the Spotify model. Many concepts (tribes, guilds, squads, etc.) are appealing. What get’s lost in translation, though, is that Agile is a mindset. Not just a practice or a tool, but a different way of thinking and working. Without embracing the Agile mindset, the Spotify model and its associated practices will do no better than any other practice including Waterfall or Scrum. The Spotify model is one of several ways to scale agility across an organization.
Here are links to Spotify’s Agile Engineering and Product Management youTube videos:
- Spotify Engineering Culture part 1 Agile Enterprise Transition with Scrum and Kanban
- Spotify Engineering Culture Part 2
- Agile Product Ownership in a Nutshell
Let me know what you think. Want to talk about it?
Thanks for coming in today.