What is the Spotify Model’s Squad Structure?

Do you know the Spotify model? Or even, do you know the Squads that are into this model? This new and revolutionary model came at a time that Scrum took over project management tools and no one could oversee what would be next in line to favor different (and efficient) approaches.

Spotify is a music and podcast app, which is one of the largest in the world in its area.  Its value is around  $30 billion dollars and the team organization model, also known as “Spotify Squads”, is certainly one of the reasons for this momentum of the company.

In this article, you will learn what is the Spotify Model’s Squad Structure and its importance to increasing productivity among teams.

What is Spotify Squads?

Spotify came to life as a technology startup and it began very small and used very basic concepts of Scrum, since its inception.

However, over the years, the number of contributors and stakeholders has increased and the utility of Scrum was not necessary any longer. The mission of Spotify was to develop a new way to innovate and bring new horizons to the company.

First of all, Spotify changed the role of Scrum Master to an Agile Coach inside the company, which is a professional who does not necessarily need to be an expert in Scrum.

The main goal of this charge was to facilitate a transformation with agile practices in the organization, which means a change from “Scrum teams” to “Squads”.

Squads are small teams of up to 8 people who need to work together and have end-to-end responsibilities.

In other words, the Squads were the ones that controlled certain Spotify product functionality from its design, development, and maintenance, with a very high level of autonomy.

After all, this responsibility for functionality or feature makes teams “independent”, since all decision-making and technical needs are internally concentrated in each Squad.

Autonomy is one of the keywords that made Spotify so successful with Squads. In addition to being a very strong motivator, it is a way to streamline production and focus on certain crucial aspects.

Alignment is the other keyword that has made Spotify Squads successful. Not only do all squads need to line up,  but also none of them are unconscious of Spotify’s mission. It is as if they were highly productive cells that form a single living organism.

Responsibilities for Spotify Squads

These responsibilities range from direct functionality into the final system or simply an architectural foundation to assist other squads.

Some scopes are focused, for example, on parts of the main application, such as research. Others, on the other hand, take care of the underlying infrastructure for the rest of the company.

In this new approach, each group has the autonomy to choose the way it works. However, there are big concerns about the combination of alignment and independence.

Thus, leaders even guide employees on what to do, but each squad makes the decision about how to do it.

Regarding Scrum roles, the Product Owner remains relevant as a Squad leader who decides what will be done and what will be prioritized. Furthermore, the agile pillars are kept intact: continuous deliveries, smaller part deliveries, and test automation to make them frequent too.

Interestingly, these groups also share tasks. The code that is worked on internally is kept in an open-source model, that is, any part can be modified by any member of any team.

Moreover, there is a culture of peer code review, which basically ensures that changes are reviewed by another group of people.

Main elements of the SM Squad

Once the company developed this model, it needed to deal with a problem: that of closing groups in their silos and preventing communication with other squads. For that, an even more complete structure needed some completeness, composed of chapters, guilds, and tribes.

Tribes are sets of squads that handle an entire project. While smaller groups focus on a specific part, tribes bring these teams together for communication.

It is important to highlight that the tribes constitute a structure, with the squads being the columns. If there are columns, we have the lines too, which are just the chapters.

Chapters are collections of people with the same competence and professional responsibility, led by a leader.

That is, there is the designers’ chapter, the developers’ chapter, among others. This allows professionals to keep in touch with others in their field, even across different teams. It works almost like a department, in the traditional structure.

Finally, we have guilds, which bring together people from different squads, tribes, and chapters to share information and practical knowledge. It’s like a community with some kind of specific skill and technology.

The difference is that, while chapters and squads are mandatory for professionals, a guild is voluntary: anyone can opt out whenever they want.

What are the advantages?

This approach has brought to Spotify and other corporations that have invested in efficient strategies some good benefits which lead them to success.

Although every way to lead Squads belongs to each team, these are important Let’s get to know these benefits then.

1. Create agility to a better decision-making

One of the aspects is the agility in decisions. Consider, for example, an old, departmental, and not agile structure. For every decision, it is necessary to wait bureaucratically for managers and leaders. They are often not in direct contact with what is happening on a daily basis.

In squads, the leader focuses on the functionality and responsibility of the group. It generates agility and speed so that teams can work and deliver quality results.

Everything flows more quickly, without bureaucracy and communication bottlenecks. The groups work simultaneously, in order to contribute to satisfying internal demands.

In each squad, the Product Owner chooses the way the work is going to flow. Thus, the methodologies and technologies vary depending on the group, which generates an interesting diversity and allows the employee to contribute with the best, working with what is convenient for them.

2. Collaborate and learn with all team members

Another big advantage of this method is that it doesn’t lock people into closed groups only.

Unlike other alternatives, professionals remain connected with different people in the company. They have the ability to collaborate and learn from each one of them. Members communicate with their squad, tribe, chapter and guild in order to extract knowledge from these levels.

Especially in guilds, which are specifically geared towards learning and the intellectual evolution of employees.

3. Work on Flexibility and scalability

The idea was to develop a framework that would keep the agile pillars alive, and they did it. Squads optimize internal flexibility, making the company adaptable to different levels of demand, especially with the evaluation of their own methods. In addition, it is easier to grow in a safe and efficient way by adding new members to the organization.

In this way, the company remains competitive and modern, by valuing agile ideals and optimizing production speed.

GitScrum helps you get along with all Squads

GitScrum loves to bring all teams together and offers the best tools to help you reach the best result on time! Find your way to work with your Squad with GitScrum!

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