A look at Spotify’s Agile Scaled Model

Tram Ho


Certainly developers today are no stranger to agile (agile methodology), and scrum is one of the most popular software development processes arising from it. With the advantages it offers, scrum is the perfect choice for small and medium sized projects. However, for large and complex projects, scrum is not enough and now what we need is agile scaling model – a flexible software development model based on replication model.

The Agile scaling model provides us with detailed instructions on how to organize, regulations, techniques and workflows to ensure the management and operation of a project reaches hundreds or thousands of people. . This is something that scrum can hardly do. Currently a number of popular agile scaling models are SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework), LeSS (Large Scaled Scrum), Nexus Framework by Scrum.org for Scaling Scrum and Spotify agile model. These are the 4 most popular scaling models and it’s hard to compare which one is the best framework. But once you’ve compared it, you can spot a completely different framework from other frameworks and this article will write about that different framework. Well true to the title, it’s the Spotify agile model. 3 frameworks like SAFe, LeSS or Nexus all retain their positions like Product Owner and Scrum Master, which means the similarity between them is based on scaling scrum. And Spotify doesn’t do that. They organize in a different way, bring new concepts in and make a difference.

So what are you waiting for, let’s go

About Spotify’s Agile Scaled Model

Spotify is a popular music service. At a small scale, they now have around 4,000 employees and about 100 teams in operation. One of the key factors to their success is the management and operation of the system in agile manner and, of course, some more customization options in scaling agile to create a unique impression – Spotify’s agile scaled model.

Spotify’s agile scaled model sets a benchmark for startups and even those with established reputations that have a common goal of focusing on innovation and accelerating the distribution of their products to the market. school. Although it does not work well for all businesses, it still encourages businesses to adjust the model in a way that is more suitable for them. Spotify’s agile scaled model contributes to a faster acceleration of achieving project goals and changing participants’ mindset. This is of course because it is an agile method that is unlike anyone.

The main structure of Spotify Model

  • Squads

Similar to scrum teams, Spotify defines each of its teams as a squad . Each squad consists of 6-12 people working focused on a specific function. A squad must ensure autonomy, self-organization and self-management. That means that every squad can choose their own software development process, be it scrum or anything else but it must ensure to apply an MVP technique (Most Viable Product technique).

Each squads will need an Agile Coach to keep the squad on track and improve the way each member works. The consultant here can be the Product Owner, or even the tribe lead (introduced in the next section) – people who know the directional functions and tasks of each feature area. They take on key roles in retro meetings as well as sprint planning meetings to make sure squad work effectively.

Each squad can communicate directly with stakeholders without going through any intermediaries.

  • Tribes

Many squads that work together on a feature area may be combined to form a tribe . Each tribe can have from 40 to 150 members but ideally is about 100 members. With a size up to 3 digits, of course the tribe needs for its leader, that is the lead tribe.

Tribe lead will be the main person responsible for creating creative working environment and improving the productivity of squads. Besides the tribe lead can also be a member of a squad.

  • Chapter

This is a very interesting hierarchy concept – horizontal hierarchy in the system diagram. You can refer to the image attached above to make it easier to understand. Each squad of course will have a key member or an expert in the field the squad is in. This collection of experts in every squad in a tribe is called a chapter . Remember, in a tribe, guys. Because chapters should take on only one field to the fullest.

The chapter also needs a lead chapter to manage the members in a chapter. It may sound redundant, but the chapter lead position will play a very important role in the development of the chapter members. They are supporters as well as leverers who create challenges so that members can develop to a new level. Because as you all know how difficult it is for an expert to develop further. In addition, chapter lead also has a voice in recruiting and technology in the project.

  • Guild

yeah just like in the game, after all apart from dev life we ​​also have a guild to belong to. A guild is an organization made up of members who share a common interest. The members can be in any squad, chapter or tribe, just have the same shared interest, they can form and be part of a guild.

Each guild has an important position that is a coordinator. This is the organizer, calling members and conducting meetings in the guild. But you should not mistake the coordinator as a guild master. For guilds, there is no concept of hierarchy, so there is no such thing as a guild master.

The main purpose of having a guild is similar to that of the chapter which is to resolve disagreements between teams (squad or tribe …), helping to maintain the correct transparency of information, functions, tasks. service … It is a bridge to synchronize between teams, helping teams to stay connected and focused. Or sometimes helping each other on anything. Always remember that the project is the work of a group, not an individual’s work, so when you encounter any issues that you can’t solve, the chapter can’t solve either, call the guild. The strength is here.

Also, note that the guild is not a place to entertain, not a soccer guild or a drinking party. The guild aims to connect feature areas to solve integration problems, knowledge sharing forums, and case studies exchange. For example, chapters that want to interact with each other can be through the event guild to organize a hackathon, ctf … or if there is a conflict between solutions, you can ask the guild tester to verify.

  • Trio

A trio is a unique form of a tribe. As squares are special forms of rectangular positions. A tribe is called a trio when it has 3 leaders including the design lead, product area lead and tribe lead

  • Alliance

An Alliance created by 3 trio. 3 trio, not 3 tribe. And of course to ensure that the Alliance must also have 3 positions design lead, product area lead and tribe lead.

  • Chief Architect

Finally, the most important position – Chief Architect . Because of being Chief, of course this position is assumed by one person. It is the person who outlines the vision of system architecture, advises on the design as well as solves the problems of system architecture. Whatever it is about system architecture, the Chief Architect will play a decisive role. Such as which cloud service will be used, how to build the CI / CD system …

Chief Architect has so many things to handle, so in order to reduce the pressure on Chief Architect, we will need a group of system owners, who will be in charge of supervising and examining issues related to the operation. onions of the system. The system owner will be divided into 2 parts, dev and ops, and assign specific tasks to the tribe for the squad to handle. Of course, system owners have to go through Chief Architect to decide the system’s structure.

Benefits of Spotify Model

This part I probably do not need to say much, the benefits, Spotify’s Agile Scaled Model completely gives me the benefit of agile (or scrum itself). Some benefits include:

  • Speed ​​up the performance
  • Minimize the complex processes brought by stratified management systems
  • Effectively solve short-term challenging problems
  • Minimize dependence as well as control
  • Flexibility in problem solving, helping every issue can go easier and faster
  • Keep clarity and transparency in all areas
  • Promote the development of everyone
  • Suitable for most work environments.

Some points to grasp when applying the Spotify Model

An important feature of agile application is self-control. The Spotify agile scaling model is no exception, the autonomy must be at the forefront and there is also a need for trust and some of the following:

  • Must have good knowledge of agile and scrum (or any effective process arising from agile), this is the core weakness. Agile must be grasped before scaling agile
  • Standardize rules for teams, must clearly distinguish between squads, tribe, chapter, guild.
  • Having a reliable, competent and always innovative management system in turn-based thinking. Proper planning, operation and monitoring through direct channels
  • Ensure the link in each unit. This connection should be directed to the product’s turn and product features
  • Accept defeat and set a strategy to recover better than to avoid them. Remember humans make mistake.


Remember that Spotify’s success today is not based on any miracle but because they have a right development model. However, do not apply them and you will succeed. What we learn is just the basis of our development later. Maybe your project or company is not really suitable for this model. But we can totally rely on it to replace some of the inappropriate points, in addition to our good points, to create our own model. Worth a try.

Thank you for reading here. Have a nice day.

Reference source for translation: https://medium.com/scaled-agile-framework/exploring-key-elements-of-spotifys-agile-scaling-model-471d2a23d7ea

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