I don’t want to implement the Spotify-model!

agile, blog, management30

Spotify is cool, Spotify is hip, Spotify is epic, Spotify rules or whatever you call it nowadays. In the last month I heard three (serious) organizations saying they want to implement or copy the Spotify-model and I know some organizations are working on implementing it as we speak.

Why? I don’t know… I didn’t ask. My “fault”. However, when you a take few minutes (26:39 to be exactly) to watch the next video you can imagine why.

I watched them a while ago and I thought: Wow this is cool! Wow this is hip! Wow this is epic! Wow this rules or whatever you call it nowadays. I wanna work there! But moving to Sweden, leaving everything behind did not fit in my plan at that moment (still doesn’t by the way).

Something else.

I am facilitator Management 3.0 (M30) and part of M30 is Complexity Thinking. I believe an organization is a complex adaptive system (CAS) because it consists of people that form the organization, which shows complex behavior while it keeps adapting to a changing environment. Or simple: the behavior of an organization is hard to predict and its structure can be difficult to understand because it is all about people. When I talk about the structure I am not talking about the official HR org chart, I am talking about all the communication lines, people working together from different departments etc.

It is hard to deal with a CAS but there are some guidelines. I am not going to discuss all of them in this blog, just the one that relates to I-want-to-implement-the-Spotify-Model-case.

  • Use a diversity of perspectives, to handle a CAS you should use different models/frameworks. Don’t just use one silver bullet. There is not one silver bullet. So assuming the Spotify-model will solve all your problems won’t work. The Spotify-model is just one model, you should use different models;
  • Steal and Tweak, the most successful complex system is constantly copying and tweaking, it is called Nature. To handle a complex system you look around, steal an idea, tweak it and experiment with it. Stealing the Spotify-model is a good idea, but don’t forget to tweak it. Understand you need to tweak it!
  • Expect dependence on context. I attended a few years ago a talk of Ken Schwaber, he refused to give an answer to question like how do you do this or how do you that. His argument was that most time people will blindly copy the practice and it will fail. What worked for him, doesn’t need to work for someone else. As Ralph Stacey says in his book Complexity and Organizational Reality: “Any relationship anyone identifies between a management action and an outcome could have far more to do with a particular time and place where the sample is selected than anything else.”

The fact the Spotify-model works for Spotify is because it is their model, a result of years of experimenting. A constant Agile Mindset, inspect and adapt and be transparent.

They end the second video with the statement “Culture is the sum of everyone attitude and actions”, as we all know every individual is different, it is not possible to copy the Spotify-model to your organization.

So don’t get me wrong, the Spotify-model is super cool (that is what they say nowadays, just checked it with my daughter) and many organizations can learn from it. But, don’t copy it, use as inspiration, steal-and-tweak ideas and use it to start experimenting with new things.

What do you think? Let me know your thoughts while I am listening to the music that I uploaded to Google Play Music, a super cool feature 😉

Do you want to learn how to deal with Complexity in Modern Organizations? Attend the Management 3.0 Workshop to learn about the eight guidelines to deal with complexity.


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