VP of Delivery at Relevant Software

Scaling Agile with “Spotify Squads” Product Team Structure

October 27, 2021

Such an organizational structure as the Spotify model made a lot of noise after the overwhelming success of the same-name company. Most tech companies and startups today are looking to replicate their success and are experimenting with the “Spotify squads” strategy. 

Is it a real perfect fit for your product development and how does it match with Agile methodology? In this article, you will learn more about this flexible organizational model and the ways to apply “Spotify Squads” in your product development process.

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The Basics of “Spotify Squads” Team Structure

The main objective of this model is to enhance production turnover by increasing the number of employees without losing flexibility and speed of decision making. This method is based on two fundamental principles that may seem contradictory to many business owners.

These are principles of achieving a common goal and autonomy. Usually, in practice, it is challenging to combine them to achieve positive results. Hence, the key to this strategy is in the fact that when employees have a clear vision and understanding of the common cause and purpose, then they become more autonomous in their tasks.

Main Elements of the Model

The Spotify model ideally coincides with Agile’s values, namely, striving for flexibility, quick adaptation, and the ability of everyone to realize their idea and offer the best way to solve a problem.

Here are the basic building blocks of this model that can easily be transferred to the Agile product development team.

  • Squads: These are the typical cross-functional Scrum teams. Let’s suggest you have several teams of 6-12 members, for example, a team consisting of the backend, frontend, and QA engineers. Each squad should be working on a specific feature area. This unit is autonomous and self-governing. Also, each squad has its goals to achieve with the help of chosen project management methodology.
  • Tribes: Squads are bundled into tribes that may consist of 40-150 members, but no more than 100 people. Tribes are squads working on the same functional area. There is a leader who has to create an efficient environment. Often, such a person can be a part of the squad too.
  • Chapter: This refers to specialist units. There are members from other squads who united into one, within the tribes. The leader in this functional organization is the leader of the branch members. The leader’s primary goal is to solve specific problems and support the participants in terms of personal growth.
  • Guild: To put it more simply, this is not a common group. It is based on people from different tribes with common interests. That is, any member of the organization can become part of the guild. Technically it means that in department X, we have a designer who is solving a specific problem. There is also a designer in department Z who has already solved this problem. By uniting in such guilds, specialists can help each other and share their knowledge.
“Spotify Squads” Team Structure

If you are not new to organizational structures’ direction, you must have noted that there is no hierarchical structure in this model. This approach fundamentally changes the corporate culture, the speed of decision-making, and the motivation of personnel.

“Companies will inevitably slow down as they grow larger, no matter how hard they try to keep their startup mojo.”

– Henrik Kniberg

How Autonomy Transforms Productivity?

In general, we can summarize that the Spotify model allows not only to maintain but also to develop corporate culture. Autonomy erases a rigid hierarchy, allows your team members to reveal their potential and individuality, and also brings motivation.

This model influences not only the atmosphere in the company. Its main goal is to increase work efficiency, which is especially appropriate when introducing a new product, service, or project. This model allows you to simplify the process of creating dreamt-of innovation.

“Autonomy makes us fast”

– Henrik Kniberg

Why Is Spotify Model Not Working?

To date, many corporations and enterprises of various sizes are trying to implement this methodology. This system and success of the company conquered everyone. 

Hence, the eloquence of Henrik Kniberg (the author of the “Spotify” book and awesome illustrations to Agile) played a huge role. Indeed, everything looks great in theory, but few people manage to feel all these advantages in practice. That because it never was a methodology, rather an inspiration of how things can be done.

The point is that many organizations simply take this Spotify squads organization chart and rename their existing teams. But this is where all the action stops. It’s important to understand that Spotify Squads are not merely about the different ways of naming your teams and not about basic reorganization of your structure. 

According to the rule of ordering in mathematics, which is perfectly applicable here, the total sum does not change when the summands are rearranged. Here we can count on a significant result if there is no deep understanding of the Spotify essence when it comes to optimizing Agile teams.

We want to emphasize that realizing how this model works and trying to implement it in your company without experience will not bring the high-end results that you have often heard about from Henrik Kniberg. But this does not mean that your company should forget about the Spotify model. You just need outside professionals who have experience in this area to do it.

Why Do You Need Professional Assistance to Implement the Model?

As you already understood, the independent implementation of this method will not bring visible results. It is significant not only to change the organizational structure but also to understand what is happening for all team members. Introducing Spotify Squads to your business process implies a significant corporate culture shift. And that is why it is better to launch and incorporate these changes with strong professional support. 

Relevant Software can help you scale your Agile team according to your project needs. For example, if you need additional specialists to work on your product features, we may provide a Squad to strengthen your in-house team. We may also empower your internal team with a Chapter of highly-specific professionals if you need certain expertise to successfully build your product. What is more, you may apply for an Agile consulting service and use our insights and suggestions for your internal team engineering. 


During the development of technological projects, especially if this is a dedicated team and the client does not have the ability to personally control each task development process, a competent approach to team organization is of key importance. 

As we said, the Spotify model is suitable for scaling agile. Using a dedicated development team that works according to this model and culture, you get high development efficiency without loss of quality, plus the ability to scale the team without losing key links.

Written by
VP of Delivery at Relevant Software
I ensure delivery excellence and high-quality of software development services our company provides. We carefully pick each employee and stick to high standards of product development to ensure the highest quality of code.

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