Audio production by James Ede, Be Heard

Spotify has always been known for its eagerness to experiment based on the needs of its employees and its growing business —and this sets the company apart from others. Whether it’s through creating outstanding clarity outlined in the Band Manifesto, hiring employees based on “culture add”, or continuing to grow and scale globally while staying true to its core beliefs, Spotify is continuously testing and adapting its company culture to best suit its employees, strategy, and the current socio-economic context.

When you look at it from the outside in, the whole company seems like a big CultureLab. Purposeful culture evolution seems to be the name of the game for the music streaming giant.

For Katarina Berg, the CHRO of Spotify, the lessons learned through experimentation and the company’s core values are crucial to scaling the culture appropriately.

“We’ve always said that our core values are not for decoration,” she states. “They need to define every single decision we make and work as a compass for us in order to build the right processes and scale our culture appropriately.”

When the core remains the same, it’s easier to change the company’s processes and let the definition of what it means to work at Spotify evolve.

Episode Highlights

Here are just some of the themes that we discussed in this interview:

  • Why it’s not a strong culture that you need when you are scaling – and what’s a better alternative.
  • The importance of codifying your culture and making your culture playbook available not only internally but also externally.
  • The role that Spotify’s Manager Manifesto plays in shaping the company’s culture.
  • The three Cs of communication – being clear, consistent, and compelling.
  • Why storytelling and communication skills are going to be even more important going into the future of work.
  • What should be the priorities of the people function when you are growing rapidly.
  • The role senior executives can play in creating psychological safety and encouraging innovation.
  • Making contrarian bets in HR.
  • Openness and transparency as the driving force behind scaling Spotify’s culture.

Listen to the interview in the player below or on iTunes. If you like what you hear, please leave a review, and it may be featured on a future episode.

Audio production by James Ede, Be Heard

More about Katarina Berg

Katarina  Berg has been heading up  Spotify’s global  HR  team and she’s also head of the company’s Global Workplace Services and Strategy Operations teams. She’s been with the company since 2013, leading the talent transformation during the business transition from startup to a mature international company.

Before Spotify, Katarina held high-profile HR roles in various multinational companies, such as

Preem, Swedbank, Kanal 5 (SBS Broadcasting) and 3 (Hi3G Access).

As well as catering to the people’s needs in a diverse, nimble and ever-changing organization, Katarina is also focused on building teams and reinventing processes to establish an environment where creative and passionate people can be their very best, have fun and develop great careers. Outside work Katarina loves to spend time in the archipelago. When she is not eating her way into new cultures or cooking for friends and family, she dreams of the days back when she traveled the world whitewater rafting.


Books and resources mentioned in this episode

From Good to Great by Jim Collins


Additional resources 

CultureBrained Community – a one-of-a-kind virtual community for Heads of Culture, founders, and leaders who want to up their culture game. 

Scaleup’s Guide to Creating a Culture Playbook 

Personal Core Values Discovery Guide

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