Spotify Software Engineering Culture

Below I have embedded two videos that give a good understanding of the Spotify culture.  They provide an excellent overview of a number of Lean / Agile principles and how they principles are being applied at Spotify.


Some of the key points of the first video are:

Scrum is a good start but don’t get caught up in just following the scrum practice.  Knowing, understanding and applying the Agile principles provides a better direction than just following a best practice.

Agile coaches should be servant leaders, not just process leaders.

Squads are teams that own the end to end process of design, build, test, deploy and manage.  They do the whole thing and take long term responsibility for it.

  • They are ideally composed of less than 8 people
  • They sit together
  • They are guided by the long term mission but have autonomy on what to build and how to build it.
  • The autonomy creates a motivated team, allows rapid decision making and minimises handoffs and waiting.
  • The principle is to be autonomous but not sub optimal.  To be loosely coupled, but tightly aligned.

People are the key to success.  Focus on motivating your team and strive for 100% happiness in the workplace.

Have a community of people that work together for a common goal rather than an organisational structure.

Enjoy part one of the video.


The second part of the view highlights their view of failure.  Below are some key points.

Fail fast – Learn fast – improve fast.small releases

Rank failure recovery over failure avoidance.  How do we minimise the impact of the failure, or catch it fast.  Minimise the impact of failure through; having decoupled software, have a gradual rollout and by small releases.  This gives the squads the courage to do small experiments and to learn from these.

Continuous improvement is important.  Spotify primarily use two tools; retrospectives and postmortems.   An incident is not closed until a postmortem on the incident is completed.   The postmortem is to help them learn and to outline what they will change so it won’t happen again.

Spotify apply Lean startups to their work.  This involves starting with an Idea/Problem then developing a narratives, mockups and multiple prototypes, then building a minimal viable product (MVP), releasing it to a small group, analyse whether it is meeting the objectives, tweaking it and further releasing to a larger group.  The release is not successful until it has achieved the impact that was expected, not just going live.

Innovation is prioritized over predictability.  If teams can be freed from trying to hit an end date, and instead focus on adding valuing and being innovated it is much more valuable to the development autonomy

Hack time.  They give the individuals 10% of their time to hack time.  Develop whatever you want, however you want, with whoever you want.  If you try enough ideas eventually you will hit gold.  Plus the learning and fun is rewarding.  Twice a year they dedicate a week to a hack week.

Waste elimination is important.  Only do what adds value, chuck the rest away.

Enjoy the second video.

If you are interested in these practices and would like some assistance in implementing them, then contact politics, no fear