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High Performing IT Organizations: Please stop implementing the “Spotify model”


It seems like tribes and squads and guilds are everywhere. I get the impression that a lot of people looked at the way Spotify is doing agile and thought: that sounds cool, let’s do that. I think that is a fundamentally wrong approach to fix any issue that you are facing in your journey towards becoming agile.

The Spotify model

First of all, I love that Spotify is so open about what they do, how they do it and why. As a community, we can learn a lot from stories like that. Great! And Spotify seems to be quite successful at it as well. So no wonder that we are looking at what they do.

But it is more important to look at why they are doing it.

Do you want to change your way of organizing or your way of working?

So when someone starts to explain to me that they adopted the Spotify model, my first question is: are you an online audio streaming company? And if not, why do you think this will be successful? In most of the cases, it turns out to be just another reorganization driven by an urge to get control over what is happening in the organization. And trying to do that by a way of organizing instead of a way of working.

“Your organization is not the goal, it is a means to an end.”

If you have decided that you want to become an agile organisation, you are embarking on a journey to create customer value at high speed. And there is no one simple answer for how to do that. That depends on a lot of factors.

Add value to your customer, don’t just implement a model for the sake of it

There is not a set path. And the outcome differs. The thing is: it is about adding value to your customer. Not about adopting a model that works for someone else.

Sure, it is great to get inspired. Go visit companies, see how they do it. Share ideas, get a new view on problems. But always focus on the reason why. It is not about creating a nice organizational chart. Your organization is not the goal, it is a means to an end. If you lose track of that goal, no organization model will help you.

You can and should do better than just copying someone else’s solution. Contact us via the button below, or my contact details in the author section and let us show you how to get started.