Home > Articles

LeSS

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

LeSS

LeSS is Scrum—Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS1) isn’t new and improved Scrum. And it’s not Scrum at the bottom for each team, and something different layered on top. Rather, it’s about figuring out how to apply the principles, purpose, elements, and elegance of Scrum in a large-scale context, as simply as possible. Like Scrum and other truly agile frameworks, LeSS is “barely sufficient methodology” for high-impact reasons.

  • Scaled Scrum is not a special scaling framework that happens to include Scrum only at the team level. Truly scaled Scrum is Scrum scaled.

...applied to many teams—Cross-functional, cross-component, full-stack feature teams of 3–9 learning-focused people that do it all—from UX to code to videos—to create done items and a shippable product.

...working together—The teams are working together because they have a common goal to deliver one common shippable product at the end of a common Sprint, and each team cares about this because they are a feature team responsible for the whole, not a part.

...on one productWhat product? A broad complete end-to-end customer-centric solution that real customers use. It’s not a component, platform, layer, or library.

• Background •

In 2002, when Craig wrote Agile & Iterative Development, many believed that agile development was only for small groups. However, we both (Craig and Bas) became interested in—and got increasing requests—to apply Scrum to large, multi-site, and offshore development. So, since 2005 we have teamed up to work with clients to scale up Scrum. Today, the two LeSS frameworks (smaller LeSS and LeSS Huge) have been adopted in big groups worldwide in disparate domains:

  • telecom equipment — Ericsson & Nokia Networks1

  • investment and retail banks — UBS

  • trading systems — ION Trading

  • marketing platforms and brand analytics — Vendasta

  • video conferencing — Cisco

  • online gaming (betting) — bwin.party

  • offshore outsourcing — Valtech India2

In terms of large, what’s a typical LeSS adoption case? Perhaps five teams in one or two sites. We’ve been involved in adoptions of that size, of a few hundred people, and up to a LeSS Huge case of well over a thousand people, far too many development sites, tens of millions of lines of C++, with custom hardware.

More LeSS Learning

To help people learn and based on our experiences with clients, in 2008 and 2010 we published two books on scaling agile development with the LeSS frameworks:

  1. Scaling Lean & Agile Development: Thinking and Organizational Tools for Large-Scale Scrum — explains the thinking, leadership, and organizational design changes.

  2. Practices for Scaling Lean & Agile Development: Large, Multi-site & Offshore Product Development with Large-Scale Scrum — shares hundreds of concrete experiments for LeSS, based on our experience with clients; experiments in product management, architecture, planning, multi-site, offshore, contracts, and more.

This book—Large-Scale Scrum: More with LeSS—is the third in the LeSS series, a prequel and primer. This book synthesizes, clarifies, and highlights what’s most important.

Besides these books, see less.works for online learning resources (including book chapters, articles, and videos), courses, and coaching.

• Experiments, Guides, Rules, Principles •

The first two LeSS books emphasized: There are no such things as best practices in product development. There are only practices that are adequate within a certain context.

Practices are situational; blithely claiming they are “best” disconnects them from motivation and context. They become rituals. And pushing so-called best practices kills a culture of learning, questioning, engagement, and continuous improvement. Why would people challenge best?

Therefore, the earlier LeSS books shared experiments we and our clients have tried, and we encouraged—and encourage—this mindset. But over time we noticed two problems with the only-experiments mindset:

  • Novice groups made unskillful decisions to their detriment, adopting LeSS in ways not intended, with obvious problems; e.g. groups created Requirement Areas with one team each. Ouch!

  • Novice groups asked, “Where do we start? What’s most important?” They understandably couldn’t see the key basics.

Based on this feedback we reflected and returned to the Shu-Ha-Ri model of learning: Shu—follow rules to learn basics. Ha—break rules and discover context. Ri—mastery and find your own way. In a Shu-level LeSS adoption, there are a few rules for a barely sufficient framework to kick-start empirical process control and whole-product focus.1 These rules define the two LeSS frameworks that are introduced soon.

To summarize and build on these points, LeSS includes:

  • Rules—A few rules to get started and form the foundation. They define the key elements of the LeSS frameworks that should be in place to support empirical process control and whole-product focus. e.g. Hold an Overall Retrospective each Sprint.

  • Guides—A moderate set of guides to effectively adopt the rules and for a subset of experiments; worth trying based on years of experience with LeSS. Guides contain tips. Usually helpful and are an area for continuous improvement; e.g. Three Adoption Principles.

  • Experiments—Many experiments that are very situational and may not even be worth trying; e.g. Try... Translator on Team.

  • Principles—At the heart, a set of principles—extracted from experience with LeSS adoptions—that inform the rules, guides, and experiments; e.g. whole-product focus.

A good way to look at LeSS is visualized in the LeSS complete picture:

The LeSS complete picture will order the way we introduce LeSS:

  1. LeSS principles, up next

  2. LeSS frameworks (defined by the rules), in the rest of this chapter

  3. LeSS guides, in the following chapters of this book

  4. LeSS experiments, already available in the first two LeSS book

• LeSS Principles •

The LeSS rules define the LeSS framework. But the rules are minimalistic and don’t answer how to apply LeSS in your specific context. The LeSS principles provide the basis for making those decisions.

Large-Scale Scrum is Scrum—It isn’t new and improved Scrum. Rather, LeSS is about figuring out how to apply the principles, rules, elements, and purpose of Scrum in a large-scale context, as simply as possible.

Transparency—Based on tangible “done” items, short cycles, working together, common definitions, and driving out fear in the workplace.

More with less—We don’t want more roles because more roles leads to less responsibility to Teams. We don’t want more artifacts because more artifacts leads to a greater distance between Teams and customers. We don’t want more process because that leads to less learning and team ownership of process. Instead we want more responsible Teams by having less (fewer) roles, we want more customer-focused Teams building useful products by having less artifacts, we want more Team ownership of process and more meaningful work by having less defined processes. We want more with less.

Whole-product focus—One Product Backlog, one Product Owner, one shippable product, one Sprint—regardless if 3 or 33 teams. Customers want valuable functionality in a cohesive product, not technical components in separate parts.

Customer-centric—Focus on learning the customers real problems and solving those. Identify value and waste in the eyes of the paying customers. Reduce wait time from their perspective. Increase and strengthen feedback loops with real customers. Everyone understands how their work today directly relates to and benefits paying customers.

Continuous improvement towards perfection—Here’s a perfection goal: Create and deliver a product almost all the time, at almost no cost, with no defects, that delights customers, improves the environment, and makes lives better. Do endless humble and radical improvement experiments toward that goal.

Lean thinking—Create an organizational system whose foundation is managers-as-teachers who apply and teach lean thinking, manage to improve, promote stop-and-fix, and who practice Go See. Add the two pillars of respect for people and continuous challenge-the-status-quo improvement mindset. All towards the goal of perfection.

Systems thinking—See, understand, and optimize the whole system1 (not parts), and use systems modeling to explore system dynamics. Avoid the local sub-optimizations of focusing on the efficiency or productivity of individuals and individual teams. Customers care about the overall concept-to-cash cycle time and flow, not individual steps, and locally optimizing a part almost always sub-optimizes the whole.

Empirical process control—Continually inspect and adapt the product, processes, behaviors, organizational design, and practices to evolve in situationally-appropriate ways. Do that, rather than follow a prescribed set of so-called best practices that ignore context, create ritualistic following, impede learning and change, and squash people’s sense of engagement and ownership.

Queuing theory—Understand how systems with queues behave in the R&D domain, and apply those insights to managing queue sizes, work-in-progress limits, multitasking, work packages, and variability.

• Two Frameworks: LeSS & LeSS Huge •

Large-Scale Scrum has two frameworks:

  • LeSS. 2–8 Teams

  • LeSS Huge. 8+ Teams

The word LeSS is overloaded to mean both Large-Scale Scrum in general and the smaller LeSS framework.

The Magic Number Eight

Actually, eight isn’t a magic number, and if your group can successfully apply the smaller LeSS framework with more than eight teams, great! But we haven’t seen that... yet. It’s just an upper-limit empirical observation. And in some cases, such as varied complex goals with multi-site inexperienced foreign-language-only teams, it could be less than eight.

In any event, at some point, (1) the single Product Owner can no longer grasp an overview of the entire product, (2) the Product Owner can’t balance an external and internal focus, and (3) the Product Backlog is so large that it becomes difficult for one person to work with.

When the group hits that tipping point, it may be time to change from the smaller LeSS framework to LeSS Huge. On the other hand, we suggest first trying to get better, smaller, and simpler, before getting huger.

Common Across the Frameworks

The LeSS and LeSS Huge frameworks share common elements:

  • one Product Owner and one Product Backlog

  • one common Sprint across all teams

  • one shippable product increment

The following two sections of this chapter explain the frameworks; the smaller LeSS framework is next, and LeSS Huge starts further on..

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020