You want to adopt the “Spotify Model”? I don’t think it means what you think it means!’

Scrum and beyond…

Willem-Jan Ageling
Serious Scrum
Published in
5 min readJan 23, 2019


So your company has a matrix organisation model? Then you saw the Spotify organisation model with Tribes and Chapters and you thought; “Hey, we can keep our good old matrix organisation and simply rename it to “The Spotify Model!” Did you? Do you think this makes you a front-runner? Well, think again.

It doesn’t work to take this model:

Change some words:

And make it look more informal:

This misses the mark of the videos Spotify engineering culture part 1 and Spotify engineering culture part 2. There is so much more vital information that shouldn’t be ignored!

How did it miss the point of the Spotify engineering culture videos?

Yes, the organisation model in the video is a light matrix. But the chapter lead is a servant leader, focusing on coaching and mentoring the chapter members. This is a pivotal part of this organisation model. So ask yourself the question: is your former head of development — now chapter lead — indeed a servant leader? Or is (s)he still a traditional manager?

When the narrator — Henrik Kniberg — explains the model there also is this pivotal remark: “It’s a pretty picture huh? Except it’s not really true […] in reality the most valuable communication happens in informal and unpredictable ways”. This is supported by having Guilds, lightweight communities of interests. Even more striking is the following statement: “Most organisational charts are an illusion.”

Spotify puts community over structure. Is this what you had in mind when you copy-pasted the organisation model?

Here’s another important message in the video: “If you need to exactly know who



Willem-Jan Ageling
Serious Scrum Writer, editor, founder of Serious Scrum. I love writing about maximizing value.