(corollary: what is the #1 factor in high performing teams?)
Spotify is a popular music streaming app founded in 2006. The company designed a unique approach in which they enhance team agility through organizing around work called the Spotify Model. Introduced in 2012, the model focuses on the way of working of an organization to enable agility by stressing the importance of culture and network. At that time, Spotify was growing fast that sought to bring in a new way of working. They introduced autonomous, cross-functional teams called squads, comprised of designers and engineers with a range of skillsets. Squads were required to work on one (and only one) feature area at a time: the purpose was that any team would not have to depend on other teams to succeed. Product managers and designers reported to department heads. Effectively, software engineers were driven out of the team structure.
Why was The Spotify Squad Model a failure?
Spotify confessed post-IPO that there were many issues with the model, which Spotify never truly adopted and labelled it as aspirational:
What is the Number One Factor in High-Performing Teams? Ask Google
Google set out to answer the question “What makes a team effective at Google?”. How did they go about it? As you might guess for a data-oriented company like google, they tasked an entire team of researchers on their People Analytics department (don’t you wish YOU had a People Analytics department?) to find the answer in an initiative dubbed Project Aristotle.
The short version is that they studied 180 teams, ran double-blind interviews, combined subjective and objectives measures, and ran all kinds of sophisticated statistical analysis. And the winner is (drumroll please…)
And what is ‘psychological safety’? The condition where team members feel safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other.
How can leaders (and team members) cultivate psychological safety? Amy Edmondson’s book Teaming, and her TED talk, give some concrete advice.
Framing work as a learning problem acknowledges the inherent uncertainty in conducting complex work. It acknowledges that we don’t have all the answers in the beginning and expect that iteration and experimentation will be required.
Sounds kinda Agile, doesn’t it?
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My name's phil mora and I blog about the things I love: fitness, hacking work, tech and anything holistic.
Head of Digital Product
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