spotify

Blog: Having the best technology is not enough

Having just got back from a visit to Spotify in Stockholm I was struck instantly by the ‘togetherness’ of all their staff – from top to bottom. Their culture is very much along the lines of – hire great people and then get out of their way – and this shines through in everybody who I met on my visit.

Right from the start, when taken through their ‘bootcamp’ induction process, Spotify get senior people working with new starters to ensure the Spotify mission and message is indoctrinated into their new starters. And it works! Without exception, everyone I spoke to understood the company’s mission and how they and their department fitted into ensuring that the mission was the focus. I even met bumped into some of their developers in the bar in the evening prior to the visit and unprompted by PR people, their message was exactly the same.

Spotify’s belief is that the secret to high performance and satisfaction is linked to the human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things and to do by better by ourselves and our world. This belief flows through to the High-Performance Teams (HPTs) they build. 

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(Visitors hosted by Godel and Spotify include: Stuart Hughes – LateRooms.com, Alastair Brown – LateRooms.com, Jesper With-Fogstrup – LateRooms.com, Pete Hanlon – Moneysupermarket.com, Jody Goodall -Moneysupermarket.com, Keith Sterling – First Utility, Stuart Weston – William Hill, Nigel Davies – Skyscanner, Graham Padgham – Spescavers, Carl Phillips – AO.com and last but not least, Matthew Parrish – AO.com). 

HPTs within a creative framework have the utmost respect for each other but within the model, they continue to challenge each other to be better, whilst fully understanding the boundaries that are in place to ensure that achieving the mission and purpose is always maintained as the highest goal. Personalities are cast aside to focus on this and this has helped Spotify achieve what they have so far. I am sure, as they scale, the process will evolve and improve, but so it should!  To retain super talented people and deliver a quality product, you have to continuously evolve a great process to enhance the service you provide.

This got me thinking as to what the wider implications are of this.

The first thing that struck me was that although all the guys I met were all brilliant techies’, they were not caught up in the ‘wonder’ of the technology they were working with, like so many are. Their concerns were with how technology, process or both could be used to enhance the service they offer to their users and how it could improve the speed with which they bring these enhancements to market.  When faced with barriers, there was no childish frustration, there was a feeling that they saw this as a hurdle that they would find a way to jump over, because they needed to, to improve the service for the user. The focus on the user and the service provided was paramount. That was loud and clear.

Such an approach explains Spotify’s success at a time of rapid growth. To scale from 150 to 700 technical staff in 4 locations over 18 months will place a great strain on any organisation and to do this while improving the quality of service is some achievement.  Their culture is something special indeed. 

The visit last week to Stockholm has honestly inspired me in so many ways. Here at Godel, within the culture we are continuing to progress, we have seen so many great businesses like ours scale too fast because of the pressure that markets or private equity firms put on the company for growth.  Everybody wants to grow and continually improve, but doing this and maintaining quality is very difficult to achieve. Lots have failed but Spotify have a handle on it.  That is why last week was such a revelation for me personally.

My aim is to grow Godel by focussing on quality. Here, the message is loud and clear for everyone. Quality wins, every single time. Get the quality right and the numbers take care of themselves.

Huge thanks to Kevin and the guys and girls hosting us at Spotify. An amazing week!

Neil

CEO – Godel.