Interview with Brendan Marsh of Spotify

Interview with Brendan Marsh of Spotify

This is me hearing Spotify. Yeah the man in the suit…


If you know Spotify only for its music and its company culture then you are missing one more perk.

Yep, it’s their agile culture!

In Agile Greece 2015 we had  Kristian Lindwall & Cliff Hazell presenting our keynote on “Why autonomy is at the heart of Agility” and we got a whiff of Spotify’s agile culture.


 Missed the last one?

This year we are proud to have Brendan Marsh from Spotify! Brendan is Product Owner for Spotify’s Desktop Infra team and IMHO one hell of a person to talk to and learn from him.

And what a session that will be: Spotify Running: Lessons learned from building a ‘Lean Startup’ inside a big tech company.

We are really excited to have Brendan in Agile Greece Summit 2016 and looking forward to his keynote session. Did you get your ticket?

Brendan Marsh - Agile Greece 2016


Q: Could you briefly introduce yourself?

My name is Brendan and I’m a Product Owner for Spotify’s Desktop Infra team. In the 3 years I’ve been working at Spotify, I’ve spent most of that time as an Agile Coach, coaching various teams ranging from Data Infrastructure to Spotify’s Running experience. I’m the guild coordinator for our Innovation Guild and I’m passionate about Innovation, Product Discovery and all things Agile/Lean.

Q: What will your talk be about, exactly? Why this topic?

I’m going to talk about how I coached a cross-functional team to build Spotify Running. Specifically, how we discovered what to build and what my learnings were from essentially trying to build a Lean Startup within a big tech company. I believe Product Discovery is still in its infancy in the Agile world and there is a lot to be gained from validating our assumptions about our product in a lean way. We’ve become really good at delivering and adapting, but we’re still learning how to know what to deliver. I find this concept super interesting, I hope you do too 🙂

Q: What do you think could be the main gain for participants in your session?

Practical advice, tips and learnings from someone that has applied Lean Startup thinking within a big company. Leave feeling like it is possible to work in this way, but also armed with some of our learnings / mistakes, so that you don’t need to make the same ones we did 🙂

Q: Can you give some advice to teams/organizations that are transitioning to agile?

Don’t make your goal “implement agile/scrum/kanban/safe/process-x”. Start with your challenges, your values and your goals and work from there. And sometimes (most of the time), if people don’t take a new way of working with open arms, it might have absolutely nothing to do with the process. Understanding what makes people tick, gaining their trust, listening and empowering folks is 90% of the battle. All the certifications in the world can’t fix a team that is demotivated or uninspired.

Q: How do you see the evolution of Agile in the future?

The Agile Manifesto and its related practices & processes did a pretty good job of arming teams with values and ways of working that help them improve. What it hasn’t done very well, is figure out how the organisation should work around these teams. I predict some middle ground between sociocracy/holacracy and hierarchical management structure coming in to play. At Spotify, we’ve started experimenting with some practices in this area, but certainly haven’t taken the “all-in” approach like some other companies have.

Q: You have given many interviews/presentations about agile. Is there a question you wish to have been asked but no one ever asked you?

I like hard questions. Or even disagreements, lets get a good debate going. I want someone in the audience to vehemently disagree with something I’ve said. More fun that way 🙂

Get your tickets for Agile Greece Summit 2016

Agile Greece summit 2016

George Psistakis

I am a lousy singer and painter. Co-founder of the easiest data management platfrom. Ever… Blendo (
– I love Agile. Got certified as a Scrum Master and, along with more friends, a founding member of (
– I like community management and I am co-organizer of the API Athens (
API-Athens/) and the Agile Greece ( meetups.
– I do some blogging too and contribute to Developer Economics and write my own blog.