Climbing Off The Ladder, Before We Fall Off

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Chris Angove outlines the challenges having only a linear growth option, the organization of Spotify and the attempt to provide non-linear options to improve happiness and retention within the team. Filmed at qconnewyork.com.

Chris Angove is a Chapter Lead at Spotify in New York City, where he works with a team of backend engineers on the services powering the music streaming service. Since graduating from the University of Michigan he has spent over a decade working with various teams to make high quality software from network simulation tools, education software and now in the music streaming sphere.

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Climbing Off The Ladder, Before We Fall Off

  1. 1. August 28, 2014 Climbing off the Ladder, Before we fall off. Or how I began to think about nonlinear career development
  2. 2. Watch the video with slide synchronization on InfoQ.com! http://www.infoq.com/presentations /spotify-happiness-retention InfoQ.com: News & Community Site • 750,000 unique visitors/month • Published in 4 languages (English, Chinese, Japanese and Brazilian Portuguese) • Post content from our QCon conferences • News 15-20 / week • Articles 3-4 / week • Presentations (videos) 12-15 / week • Interviews 2-3 / week • Books 1 / month
  3. 3. Presented at QCon New York www.qconnewyork.com Purpose of QCon - to empower software development by facilitating the spread of knowledge and innovation Strategy - practitioner-driven conference designed for YOU: influencers of change and innovation in your teams - speakers and topics driving the evolution and innovation - connecting and catalyzing the influencers and innovators Highlights - attended by more than 12,000 delegates since 2007 - held in 9 cities worldwide
  4. 4. 1 Who is this Chris Angove person? Graduated with BS in CS from the University of Michigan Spent 10 years as a C++ Developer Started leading in 2005 (reluctantly) Associate Director of Engineering at Amplify in Brooklyn in 2012 Joined Spotify as a Chapter Lead in 2013 Always been interested in engineering culture and career development
  5. 5. 2 Quick Overview of Spotify
  6. 6. 3
  7. 7. 4 Began with Agile, but process got in the way At beginning process was vital to creating the team As we grow, teams tried to figure out how to remain agile Implement new structure in 2012 Continuously tweaking process
  8. 8. 5 Alignment & Autonomy Henrik Kniberg Alignment Do what I say! Autonomy Do whateve r
  9. 9. 6 High Alignmen t Aligned Autonomy! High Autonomy Build a bridge! Micromanaging organization Indifferent culture Entrepreneurial organization Chaotic culture Authoritative organization Conformist culture Innovative organization Collaborative culture We need to cross the river Figure out how! We need to cross the river Low Alignmen t Low Autonomy Hope someone is working on the river problem… Henrik Kniberg
  10. 10. Not so original, original idea 7 Tribe PO PO PO Tribe lead Tribe PO PO PO PO Tribe lead Chapter Chapter PO Chapter Chapter Guild
  11. 11. Reality is Messy! 8 Tribe PO PO PO Tribe lead Tribe PO PO PO PO Tribe lead PO Chapter Chapter Guild
  12. 12. 9 Aligned Autonomy - be autonomous, but don’t suboptimize - Spotify’s mission > Squad’s mission Henrik Kniberg
  13. 13. 10 Mutual respect My colleagues are awesome! Ego Henrik Kniberg
  14. 14. 11 The Linear Ladder Walking the usual path
  15. 15. 12 CTO VP of Engineering Director of Engineering Team Lead Architect Senior Software Engineer Junior Developer Intern
  16. 16. 13 Each rung is clearly tied to role and responsibility The Benefits of the Ladder
  17. 17. 14 Path of Career Development is Clear The Benefits of the Ladder
  18. 18. 15 Easy to get Resources The Benefits of the Ladder
  19. 19. 16 Value added to the company is obvious to all The Benefits of the Ladder
  20. 20. 17 The Benefits of the Ladder Explicit path for respect and being recognized for achievements
  21. 21. 18 What’s the Danger? Simplicity sometimes has it’s cost
  22. 22. 19 Reality is rarely simple, more often it’s messy What’s wrong with the ladder
  23. 23. 20 We have usually preferred to keep structure flat, only defining positions based on role not seniority What’s wrong with the ladder
  24. 24. 21 The only way to add value is predefined by structure What’s wrong with the ladder
  25. 25. 22 What’s wrong with the ladder May not have the skill set or interest for the next level on the ladder
  26. 26. 23 What’s wrong with the ladder No way to try out things, moving down the ladder is difficult
  27. 27. 24 What’s wrong with the ladder Creates a factory to eject people due to limited management positions
  28. 28. 25 What’s wrong with the ladder May promote people beyond their abilities and thus out of the company
  29. 29. 26 What’s wrong with the ladder Ultimately it provides simplicity at the cost of actual career development
  30. 30. 27 Assumes plateauing at a specific role is bad, but why? What’s wrong with the ladder
  31. 31. 28 There has to be a better way! What’s wrong with the ladder Right?!?!
  32. 32. 29 Multiple Ladders An increasingly popular approach
  33. 33. The Technology Ladder 30
  34. 34. 31 The Technology Ladder Creates a technology track to reduce skillset/interest mismatches
  35. 35. 32 Clearly sets up easy ways to recognize accomplishments The Technology Ladder
  36. 36. 33 Still very clear routes and roles setup as in linear ladder The Technology Ladder
  37. 37. 34 But…. The Technology Ladder
  38. 38. 35 Limited as it still sets up explicit roles The Technology Ladder
  39. 39. 36 Usually gets muddled (http://bit.ly/1oS7H9l) The Technology Ladder
  40. 40. 37 The Technology Ladder Still assumes that the only way to grow is through more responsibility/control
  41. 41. 38 Does not answer how to experiment and switch roles The Technology Ladder
  42. 42. 39 A non-linear approach What we call Add - Ons
  43. 43. A nonlinear model 40
  44. 44. 41 Roles defined by institutional need, not career advancement A nonlinear model
  45. 45. 42 Add-ons add both personal as well as business value A nonlinear model
  46. 46. 43 Interest and skill-set define which add-on the engineer chooses A nonlinear model
  47. 47. 44 It is engineer driven but supported by the company A nonlinear model Manager works with the engineer Trainings, sessions, workshops provided as needed Time off to participate in events approved
  48. 48. 45 Driving forces: A nonlinear model
  49. 49. 46 Do things; tell people A nonlinear model You’re doing cool stuff that others would benefit from hearing about You’re passionate about something and you’d like to see more of it You’d like recognition for your efforts
  50. 50. 47 Try Something New A nonlinear model Work is great but getting a little bored You’d like to try something new, but not stop what you are doing Not sure you want to risk switching roles completely
  51. 51. 48 Get out of the Comfort Zone A nonlinear model You’d like to acquire new skills You need to push yourself in a new direction Shake things up to see what latent skills are there
  52. 52. 49 Employee chooses add-ons or creates a new one: A nonlinear model Define Goal Define Success Metrics Define Help Needed
  53. 53. 50 Open Sourcer A Few Examples A nonlinear model Speaker Trainer Coach Mentor Architect Writer Evangelist Road Manager
  54. 54. 51 This is a work in progress A nonlinear model Testing our hypothesis now Initial steps in 2013 were a bit slow But we’re refining, check back with us soon!
  55. 55. 52 What are your ideas? This is not solved we need to innovate Yes this is a call to action! Email me cangove@spotify.com
  56. 56. 53 Want to join the band? Check out spotify.com/jobs or @Spotifyjobs for more information.
  57. 57. Watch the video with slide synchronization on InfoQ.com! http://www.infoq.com/presentations/spotify-happiness- retention

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