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Presentation: Breaking Hierarchy - How Spotify Enables Engineer Decision Making

Track: Human Systems: Hacking the Org

Location: Empire Complex, 7th fl.

Duration: 5:25pm - 6:15pm

Day of week: Monday

Slides: Download Slides

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In more hierarchical organizations, innovation and decision-making is something that traditionally happens at the top of the hierarchy and the lower levels of the org is focused on execution. Management owns a large part of the decision-making process, and engineers are largely there to execute on the direction set. There are however other ways.

In this talk, I will share how we approach the problem of fully leveraging the capacity of everyone in the organization. Spotify has made some significant efforts around how we position our engineers equal to managers, how we drive technical strategy and make decisions at scale. You will learn about useful models for structures and decision making, and hear several specific examples of how we approach leveraging the fully capacity of every individual.

In this session, you will learn

  • Several useful models for how to approach decision making at scale.
  • How Spotify leverages a decision-making framework to enable people to effectively argue what to do and how
  • Why and how to engage individual contributors in strategy
  • How to reorganize a team in a highly inclusive manner

Speaker: Kristian Lindwall

Senior Engineering Manager, Data and Machine Learning Infrastructure @Spotify

Kristian is an engineering leader at Spotify. He has over 10 years experience managing and coaching a broad variety of engineering and product teams. He was managing parts of the agile coach practice at Spotify for a few years and has been very active in supporting the growth of a strong agile and lean approach in the company. After that, he has managed the engineering team in San Francisco and most recently a 40 person team in New York. Prior to Spotify, Kristian spent 8 years in fintech in Stockholm where his main focus was reducing waste and growing high impact teams.

Find Kristian Lindwall at