In this post, you will learn the how to replicated Spotify’s success. How to create a high performance organization by copying “The Spotify Approach”.

They actually mention the key pattern in the very famous video created by Henrik Kniberg. But everyone seems to fall into the usual traps and are unable to replicate Spotify.

The Trap: Copying Structures

Let’s start with the trap.

There is a lot of excitement and interest in Spotify as a case study for high performance with Agile. At trainings and at meetups all over the world, I ask about people’s efforts to replicate Spotify and there is an almost a universal response: that people are not successful. Here is what usually happens:

  1. People copy Spotify’s structures such as Squads, Guilds, & Chapters.
  2. It doesn’t deliver the expected benefits.

What’s going on?

Copying other people’s structures does not work.

It is a very good idea to learn from others. To get inspiration. To get ideas. But not to copy.

The “Spotify Approach”

If you listen carefully to the Spotify video, they explain clearly what they did to create success. What you can do to create success. Here is what to do:

Look at where you are and grow from there. Don’t try to copy anyone else.

The whole reason they created the names “Squads”, “Guilds”, and “Chapters” is so they could make up a solution that was right for them. So they wouldn’t fall into the trap of copying someone else’s solution.  That’s a key pattern for success: Create a solution based on your situation.

Find your own path.

How to Replicate Spotify’s Success

OK. But how do we replicate Spotify’s Success?

When listening to the video, it is clear that they had an organizational culture that supports trust, innovation, autonomy, experimentation and little bureaucracy. And with these cultural elements in place, they could evolve a very powerful solution to unlock their potential. And keep evolving it. They continue on their path today. For example, they are baffled that anyone would copy the “Spotify Model” since they themselves don’t follow it.

Here is what you do:

Create an organizational culture that supports trust, innovation, autonomy, experimentation with little bureaucracy.

Or more realistically move your organizational culture in this direction. If you are normal, your culture will need a fair bit of work to approach Spotify’s.

That is how to replicate Spotify.

Emulate Spotify’s Culture, not it’s Structures.

Just to clarify, I am not literally suggesting copying Spotify’s Culture. What I advise is to look at their culture and other high performance organizations for inspiration. Then find your own path based on your organization’s history and current situation.

3 Key Take-Aways

Here are the three key take-aways from this post:

  1. Don’t fall into the trap of copying other people structures
  2. Find your own path; your own solutions.
  3. Use Spotify and other exemplary organizations to inspire your own organizational culture initiative.

Thank You: Henrik Kniberg& Spotify

First, a personal thank you to Henrik Kniberg for all the amazing work he has done in the community and how he has personally helped me through his writing, videos, talks and personal communication. In particular the video created on Spotify has inspired a lot of change worldwide.

Second, a big thank you to Spotify for publicly sharing about it’s Engineering Culture. They are a great case study for possible elements of high performance organizations.

Where to Learn More

Culture change isn’t easy and there is a lot to say on this. If you want to learn more here are some additional resources:

If you want the detailed “HowTo” on shifting your leadership and culture to high performance we suggest you consider our in-person or online training or advisory services.