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Decentralized decision-making and scaled autonomy at Spotify
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Computing, Department of Software Engineering.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1744-3118
SINTEF, Norway.
Spotify, Sweden.
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Computing, Department of Software Engineering.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1350-7030
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2023 (English)In: Journal of Systems and Software, ISSN 0164-1212, E-ISSN 1873-1228, Vol. 200, article id 111649Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

While modern software companies strive to increase team autonomy to enable them to successfully operate the piece of software they develop and deploy, efficient ways to orchestrate the work of multiple autonomous teams working in parallel are still poorly understood. In this paper, we report how team autonomy is maintained at Spotify at scale, based on team retrospectives, interviews with team managers and archival analysis of corporate databases and work procedures. In particular, we describe how managerial authority is decentralized through various workgroups with collective authority, what compromises are made to team autonomy to ensure alignment and which team-related factors can further hinder autonomy. Our findings show that scaled autonomy at Spotify does not mean anarchy, or unlimited permissiveness. Instead, squads are expected to take responsibility for their work and coordinate, communicate and align their actions with others, and comply with a few enabling constraints. Further, squads take many decisions independently without management control or due to collective efforts that bypass formal boundary structures. Mechanisms and strategies that enable self-organization at Spotify are related to effective sharing of the codebase, achieving alignment, networking and knowledge sharing, and are described to guide other companies in their efforts to scale autonomy. © 2023 The Author(s)

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2023. Vol. 200, article id 111649
Keywords [en]
Decision making, Human resource management, Coordination, Decentralized decision-making, Enabling constraint, Large-scale software development, Large-scales, Scaled autonomy, Scaling agile, Scalings, Software company, The spotify model, Software design, Enabling constraints
National Category
Software Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:bth-24390DOI: 10.1016/j.jss.2023.111649ISI: 000992126800001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85149631583OAI: oai:DiVA.org:bth-24390DiVA, id: diva2:1745611
Part of project
SCALEWISE- Support for continuous growth in large-scale distributed software development, Knowledge FoundationSHADE- A value-oriented strategy for managing the degradation of software assets, Knowledge Foundation
Funder
Knowledge Foundation, 20190087Knowledge Foundation, 20170176The Research Council of Norway, 309344Available from: 2023-03-23 Created: 2023-03-23 Last updated: 2023-06-19Bibliographically approved

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Šmite, DarjaGonzalez-Huerta, JavierDorner, Michael

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