I’ve been remiss in posting since I’ve been back in Seattle. Readjusting to life in the states, and adjusting to the new role has kept me busy. I hope to rectify that in the future. I have been lucky enough to be invited to speak several times this winter and spring in the US and Europe. If you’ll be there or live nearby and want to meet up, drop me a line on twitter and let me know!
- The Lead Developer – New York, NY – February 21, 2017
- Business Transformation & Operational Excellence World Summit – Orlando, FL – March 21-24, 2017
- Lawyernomics 2017 – Las Vegas – April 20-22, 2017
- Business Rocks – Manchester, UK – May 3-4, 2017
- JAX 2017 – Mainz, Germany – May 8-12, 2017
- The Lead Developer UK – London, UK – June 8-9, 2017
It was great speaking in Seattle once again. This is an updated version of my earlier talk on failure. Failure is critical to innovation. So if you need to fail to innovate, how can you fail in a safe way?
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These are my slides from the talks I gave at infoShare in GDansk and to ao.com and Think Money in Manchester. The talk in Poland was a shortened version of this content. This is a sort of mega-mix of many of my previous talks. This talk ends up presenting a bit more of a coherent picture on how Spotify’s culture and organization go hand-in-hand with it’s data-driven product development.
As with most of my talks, the majority of the content was in the spoken parts instead of the slides. I will hopefully have a video to share soon from one of these talks…
Today is my third anniversary at Spotify. It has been an amazing adventure and a time that I will treasure, but it is time for me to move on.
Why does someone leave a job? When I talk about this with people I’m mentoring, we’ll talk about a bad manager, a lack of challenge or a lack of opportunity. These are a failure of the manager and the company, a symptom of a larger issue to be addressed.
Sometimes though, it is just time for the person to move on to a new challenge or a new environment to continue their growth towards their own professional goals. Three years ago, I left Adobe for this reason. In a couple weeks, I will leave Spotify for this reason as well.
I was originally attracted to Spotify because of the product and the space, but I was far more excited about the culture and the way deep way Spotify approached building an engineering organization.
I came to learn more than to lead; and I’ve learned a tremendous amount in my time at Spotify. I’ve learned about being thoughtful around your company’s culture. I’ve learned about preserving and protecting that culture during rapid growth. I’ve learned about how to build a fail-safe organization. I’ve learned new ways creating a culture of autonomy and accountability. I’ve learned how to lead in a multi-cultural organization when you are not part of the dominant culture. I’ve learned how true data-driven and lean product development can work. I’ve seen what a true continuous improvement culture is like. My time at Spotify has been like an MBA course in technical leadership, and for that I will always be grateful.
That isn’t to say Spotify is perfect in all these regards. It isn’t. Helping the company overcome its challenges and continue to improve in these and other areas has been also a valuable learning experience.
Spotify still has exciting challenges and interesting work, but I’ve realized that the lessons I would learn if I stayed aren’t the most valuable ones for me to learn for the next stage of my career.
I will be joining Avvo, as it’s new Chief Technical Officer, in June. It’s a very different business and product in some ways than Spotify, but what I really liked about the company is that many of the core values are similar. I’ve also been impressed by the leadership team, the opportunity, and by the developers I’ve met.
It will be hard to leave Spotify and Sweden. I have loved my time here. I do look forward now to my new role and new challenges. I will continue to write and talk about them as I can.
I’ve included my goodbye mail to Spotify below:
Three years ago, I joined Spotify. I didn’t join because I was excited about the product. I joined because I was excited about Spotify’s culture and the deliberate way that the company approached it. Don’t get me wrong, I am a massive music fan and have been all my life. Back then though streaming music as a subscription business was still relatively nascent, especially in the US; and Spotify was not yet a clear leader even amongst the streaming companies that existed.
I came to Spotify because I was tired of trying to create environments that supported true agile development, team autonomy and lean practices where I worked. I wanted to just live in that world instead of being the agent of change. I thought I had found my paradise, and I had.
If you’ve ever heard me give a talk about Spotify, it may sound like I’m talking more about the ideal than the reality. This is true; Spotify doesn’t uniformly live up to its ideals of how it should work. What I love about Spotify though is that it never stops striving to become a better version of itself. That comes not just from Daniel, or Oskar, but also from everywhere in the organization. I’ve never seen an environment where people are so empowered to improve the way that they work.
While I have done my best to use my experience to support and to teach, I came just as much to learn; and you have all taught me a great deal. For that, I am incredibly appreciative to each and every one of you. Especially those that have challenged me, questioned me, or even just asked me to explain what the heck I meant when I said something.
For all this learning and improving, we have done some amazing things together in this time. Spotify is now the undisputed leader in streaming music. We have long passed the Deezers, the RDIOs (RIP), and the Pandoras. We are credible leaders and fending off three of the largest companies in the world. I have been so lucky to have been able to contribute, in any way, to Spotify’s success. For that I will always be proud and grateful.
Now it is time for me to move on to new challenges, to learn new lessons. I hope that I can take what I have learned and apply it in a new place. If I can create something half as special as Spotify, I will consider myself incredibly successful.
For those of you I’ve been lucky enough to interact with, again, I thank you, and I will miss spending my days working with you. For those of you I haven’t had a chance to work with, it will always be my loss. For all of you, take advantage of the wonderful gift you have been given. Give as much as you can to each other, and learn as much from each other as you can. You will work other places someday, but you will always treasure this time, in this place. Above all, protect the culture and environment that you have created. Nurture it, adapt it, develop it, and keep it strong as the organization grows.
My last day at Spotify will be June 3rd, after which I’ll be returning to Seattle to take on the CTO role at Avvo. If you visit Seattle, ping me. I’ll always be up for a Fika; and can show you what a real coffee-driven society is like 🙂
12 Powerful habits I have stolen from ultra-successful people
http://observer.com/2016/03/12-powerful-habits-i-have-stolen-from-ultra-successful-people/ (tip to kate matsudaira)
12 Lessons of Waking Up at 4:30 a.m. for 21 Days — Life Hacks for Business
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I won’t vouch that my own tastes are quite as good, but maybe the articles that I’ve found valuable might be valuable to others. So, I created an ifttt.com action to save any article that I’ve liked to a google doc. Periodically, I will post the most recent articles to this blog. At some point in the future, I might autopublish them. For now, I like the idea that I can edit them before they go live.
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