Scrum Agile Project Management

The Death Of The Spotify Model

The Spotify model is a people-driven, autonomous approach for scaling agile that emphasizes the importance of culture and network. The Spotify model champions team autonomy, so that each team (or Squad) selects their framework (e.g. Scrum, Kanban, Scrumban, etc.). Squads are organized into Tribes and Guilds to help keep people aligned and cross-pollinate knowledge.

Many ‘productivity’ talks are filled with abstractions on how to create ‘high performing teams’. Many of them use ‘Agile’ concepts which sound nice for the internet and often work for a particular use case, but how do you actually scale improvements across a large IT enterprise? All this while maintaining engineering happiness, and delivering on your projects?

In 2015, the busdevops way of working aka ‘The Spotify Model’ helped ING Bank to a next level of Agile way of work. It brought us many nice things, but we identified some issues along the way and we will cover them in the presentation. After 5 years, it was time to take the next steps.

This talk describes the good, the bad and the ugly when you want to establish a (large scale) top engineering culture and highly performant IT departments where technology is a first-class citizen. We outline how we reorganized our tribes towards product thinking, where both ‘business’ and ‘IT’ moved away from ‘Agile team purpose’. We describe in detail how we radically changed our team topologies; moved towards small, ‘purposeless’ microteams and platform teams. Next to this, we dive deeper into the crucial role which containers and OpenShift played in this transformation along with removing other ‘cognitive load’ from our engineers. We also look what Netflix thought us about ‘talent density’ in our teams, and what it means to the profile of our software engineers.

Finally, and most importantly, we share our experience on how to scale this journey for 400+ engineers, far beyond a team or a single department. This practical talk is be stripped from empty abstractions. It is for anyone who is not afraid to improve their IT organization at scale and wants to hear a true story from ‘the trenches’ of change.

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Reference: Scaling Agile @ Spotify with Tribes, Squads, Chapters & Guilds (PDF)