Coaching Organizations

What we learned from removing all chapter leads (managers) in the IT tribe at Spotify

Two years ago the Internal IT tribe @ Spotify was greatly understaffed but got approval to scale from 25 to 75 employees. As we started scaling we recognised that Spotifys organisational model added too many formal leadership roles for our taste and we wanted to find an organisational model that allowed us to scale without adding more formal leadership roles. During this time the existance of chapter leads was also being challenged in our tribe by our squad members.

To solve both these problems we conducted an experiment where we distributed leadership responsibilities and we removed all the managers (chapter leads). I did a lightening talk about our experiment at Agila Sverige 2017 (in Swedish) where I breifly went through the background, what we did, and what we learned.

P.s I do intend to hold an extended version of this lightening talk in English, but at this time I can’t confirm any specific date for when that will be.

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4 Comments

    • Viktor Cessan

      Hi Carter,

      No :( I never recorded this talk in English unfortunately. I do have slides in English but they are not self-sufficient.

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  • Mario

    Hi Victor,
    unfortunately I speak no swedish, but I watched your lighnig talk anyway – at least partially. So can you just sum up the outcome of your experiment – removing all the chapter leads – here in english.
    Is the emoji in the end of the talk and one of the few phrases I understoud “bad idea” the conclusion of your experiment?
    KR from Vienna
    Mario

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    • Viktor Cessan

      Oh it was so long ago I did this talk, and experiment so I don’t remember it all. But a few of the learnings were that:
      it’s difficult to distribute one part of a system when the other part relies on decentralization.
      Another was that even if people were positive and optimistic to learning and taking on management responsibility, when we actually started running trainings and changing processes, people did not attend.
      A third was that it would have been good to incrementally distribute the system and notice where it did not work, and then use management for that. However, since the managers we had were leaving, and noone in the teams wanted managers, we were in a tight spot–should we hire managers when noone wants them, or should we honor their decisions and trust them. In the end, we made the trust bet.

      We could also have sat down with everyone and re-adjusted or redefined the expectations on management as an alternative to slowly distributing responsibilities. The experiment resulted in us bringing back managers later, but at that point they were requested, and everyone had grown a lot within leadership and management as a result of the responsibilities they had taken on during the 6 months when we had no managers.

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