At Spotify, to start with, the smallest grouping unit is called a squad. At present, there are 30 squads, covering 250 people in all in three countries and each behaves like a lean startup in its own right.
Each focuses on a specific function and iterates on minimum viable product, releasing updates early and often. Those squads have their own workspaces, and flat management structures, although each has a product ‘owner’, too, who leads on making connections with other squads. That has its pros and cons it seems:
“Ideally each squad is fully autonomous with direct contact with their stakeholders, and no blocking dependencies to other squads. Basically a mini-startup. With over 30 teams, that is a challenge! We have come a long way, but there are still plenty of improvements to be made.
The interaction between those smaller groups is done by way of three other structures. Related squads are grouped into tribes — say infrastructure, or music player tribes. These behave as “incubators” for the startup-like squads. Tribes will never have more than 100 people, to keep them small and agile.
Tribes attempt to remain autonomous of each other, although because there is some clear interaction needed between them, especially for specific projects, they do. Grouping together for projects is called “creating scrums.” Like in sport Rugby.
For further working together and communication, there are larger groupings, called chapters and guilds, which are detailed more in the document below.
There are definitely some ups and downs to this method of working.