First impressions after being a week at Spotify.

As I wrote some time ago, the next 2 years, I want to learn by working a week at certain companies. The idea is that working a week at a company, will teach me stuff I can’t learn by following a course. Last week I spend at Spotify.
Usually, when I learn something, it takes me a while to see what I have learned.

This month will be crazy with a reorganisation and a lot of community activities.

As it might take some time to write stuff down, here are already my first impressions:

The question I received most was: how did you get in?

That’s easy. I asked.

When you want to know how it is to work at a company, ask your network for help.

  • Spotify invests a lot in making a great working environment
  • Spotify has whiteboard walls everywhere; yep you can take that literally.
  • Meeting rooms have a large screen and video camera, to connect to the other offices
  • Almost all desks can be turned into standup desks. (Unfortunately I saw no walking desks)
  • Don’t bother breaking in to steal machines, the employees that don’t take their laptops with them, they put them in big safes.
  • The company is growing very fast
  • They hire smart people from all around the world.
  • Having a coach lead a retrospective as part of the hiring process is a smart way to learn about her.
  • Spotify is a very creative company, with a lot of ideas.
  • The squads focus mainly on adding value
  • Hackweeks with people from multiple squads seem like a great idea to try something
  • I never saw so many people wearing T-shirts from their company. Lots of people really proud that they are working at Spotify.
  • When I go to my profile page, I (we) can now undelete lists that I mistakenly have deleted.
  • They understand what MVP means. I saw a demo of something a Squad has implemented. A very cool idea, working for only a few bands. Lucky for me, one of them is one of my favorite bands. Unlucky for me, it was only targeted at US customers. From what I understand the way it was implemented, was totally not scalable, yet, they could show how the feature worked.
  • Writing an (interal) improvement game document seems like a good idea.
  • My personal idea, is that their biggest problem is they have more ideas than time and people to make them. (Nothing really surprising. Most companies have that problem.) They attack it by hiring a lot of people and let them work in self-organising squads in sprints.
  • When I go working one week in a company and the weeks before it’s clear that my main contact will be ill, I should make sure I have a backup for my backup contact.
    > On Wednesday, my two main contacts were both ill. I was not prepared for that. In the end, everything was fine, yet I think I could have been more productive for Spotify.
  • I should take more pictures. Now I have ideas of what I should have taken pictures of.

All in all, I was very happy that I did this.

A: the experiment was successful

B: Spotify is an awesome company, and a perfect choice for this experiment