Dare to Disrupt – The 2019 Spotify HR Summit

A couple of months ago, Spotify’s global HR Team gathered together for two days in Stockholm, Sweden for our annual HR Summit. This year’s theme was “Dare to Disrupt”. We’d like to share some insight on why this was such an important theme for us this year. As a united HR Team, we are in it to win. Change is our constant and we have to walk the talk and learn faster than the world around us is changing. So we are committed to relentlessly innovate to make the work we do in HR relevant to our constantly evolving workforce.

This demands extraordinary HR people that are passionate about their craft. People that buy into our purpose and are up for the herculean challenges ahead. However, we also acknowledge that what got us here today, will not get us to where we want to be in the future. In order for that to happen, we need to think differently, look at problems from a different perspective, and dare to disrupt our way of thinking so we can all get better and faster. Katarina Berg (CHRO of Spotify) summed it up best when she challenged all of us to think more disruptively in our space of HR by asking “what is the worst that could happen?” And then followed up by explaining to everyone “what the worst things could be” if we do NOT dare to disrupt and continue to evolve. Stressing that “complacency is the enemy of great”.

Setting the tone

We set the inspirational tone on day one of our Summit by listening to an amazing lineup of external and internal speakers discuss why they believe disruption in their space and ours is so important. We heard from:

  • Daniel Ek – CEO @Spotify 
  • Dr. Rand Hindi – An entrepreneur and researcher in Artificial Intelligence and Privacy who is also the CEO at Snips, the first edge-based, private by design voice solution for OEMs. 
  • Professor Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic – Organizational psychologist and author of a best selling book, “Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders? (and how to fix it)
  • Spotify HR Leadership Team Panel
  • Jane Huxley – MD of EMEA @Spotify

Applying a radical mindset

After an inspirational day one of the Summit, day two was all about learning best practices for applying a radical mindset to innovate and come up with some great ideas for the future. We did this by practicing the “Double Diamond Method” of problem-solving and asking ourselves:  “Instead of following the traditional norms of HR industry practices, what disruptive and innovative approach should we take when challenging a chosen HR truth?”. 

Instead of following the traditional norms of HR industry practices, what disruptive and innovative approach should we take when challenging a chosen HR truth?

We looked at challenges within Diversity & Belonging, Career & Skill Development, Learning & Development, Sustainability, Hiring Practices, Compensation & Benefits, Retention, and so much more! Our original intent was to just take this time to practice the methodology of thinking disruptively, however, what ended up happening was much more exciting than that. Pretty much every team came back with something we want to use or implement or build further on. Sometimes it was the entire idea, like in the case with a new way of measuring belonging in the organization. In other cases, there were elements that we can build further on. We got podcast series ideas, innovative ideas for sustainability, and a new word: Protention (as in proactive retention). 

It was a day of pure innovative and free-thinking, with no roadblocks and no politics or hierarchy. The late afternoon was scrubbing your pitching technique to stress test your idea, get sponsorship and buy-in from our HR leadership team in a full-blown Sharks Tank/Dragons Den set up. The HR Leadership Team was blown away with the results, and some of the ideas are already being implemented and made part of our strategy and operations. 

Driving our own change

But ideas that we could actually use were a bonus. We were there for the exercise. So why did we take two days out of everyone’s very busy schedule to get together to do this as a team? Because sometimes, you need to see the forest for the trees and dare to think bigger. We believe that in order to build stronger disruptive mindsets, it is important to provide everyone with the time and environment to think creatively, collaborate together, and be inspired by one another. Being part of Spotify HR means staying passionate, curious, being highly motivated, and most importantly,  open to drive your own change to be able to be a company change agent. This demands from all our people the creativity to discover, the accountability to deliver, and the courage to embrace complexity as well as polarities wherever it presents itself. We all need to keep asking ourselves: “How are we, our leaders, and our teams changing the game so our organization can stay ahead?”

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Michael is a highly accomplished global Human Resources leader with over 15 years of experience in strategizing and implementing global talent initiatives that drive business results and improves both employee and company performance. He is a trusted business partner to C-level and executive management teams with an extensive record of executing high impact global talent solutions.

Michael currently serves as Head of HR APAC at Spotify, where he is responsible for driving the overall people strategy for the region. His innovative design of Spotify’s revamped parental leave program has received global recognition for taking the #leadonleave for companies supporting families, establishing work life balance, and driving inclusivity within the workplace.

Michael has worked across a broad spectrum of industries including Technology, Investment Banking & Markets, Media, and Advertising. Prior to joining Spotify, Michael was a Vice President of Human Capital Management at Goldman Sachs, where he was responsible for leading strategic people initiatives across the Technology division globally.