An overview of Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) and its value

Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) framework is typically used for scaling Scrum, Lean and Agile Development to large product groups. It works by applying the fundamentals of Scrum to multiple teams with a common goal.

22 November 2022

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As your organisation scales up, it is crucial to maintain an agile mindset for problem-solving and collaboration.

But how can you practically support agile development in your business?

That’s where the Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) framework comes in.

If you have ever watched a rugby game, you know that players come together in what’s called a scrum - or a team effort to gain possession of the ball and move forward.

In agile business transformation, Scrum has a similar meaning: the team comes together to work on small tasks and deliver incremental value.

In larger businesses with more than one team, the Large Scale Scrum framework is typically applied.

Although changing the structure of your organisational structure requires a significant and ongoing commitment, the LeSS lightweight framework can make the transformation smoother and more efficient.

Here is what you need to know...

The Scrum Framework: Let’s Cover the Basics

Initially introduced in 1995, the Scrum Guide aims to offer organisations the practical tools needed to support agile development.

What’s more, focusing on incremental tasks, collaborative efforts, continuous improvement, and regular feedback, the Scrum framework provides a reliable way to resolve complex problems.

Large Scale Scrum (LeSS)

The framework above is often described as single-team Scrum.

But what happens when an organisation begins to grow and expands to include multiple teams?

That is where Large Scale Scrum becomes helpful.

Introduced in the book Large-Scale Scrum: More with LeSS, by Craig Larman and Bas Vodde as a framework for scaling Scrum, LeSS allows large organisations to fuel agile development while working with multiple teams.

Some of the pillars of LeSS to support scaled agile frameworks are.

  • Maintaining intact the principles of Scrum

  • Using the Lean Systems

  • Remaining lightweight

  • Applying Scrum to large-scale enterprises

Key Figures

Just as in the Scrum framework, LeSS structures boast a few key figures:

  • Scrum Master

    • the most experienced person in the team about the Scrum framework, responsible for facilitating the adoptions of LeSS.

  • Product Owner

    • the person in the team responsible for ensuring that the teams work together to deliver the most valuable product or outcome

  • Product Groups

    • the cross-functional team working together to deliver value.

Organisation and Events

Although the LeSS framework is thoroughly adapted to the needs of each organisation, this organisational structure does have some important pillars.

In particular, a lot of the framework’s success is based on certain events that take place on a regular basis.

These include:

  • Sprints

    • Sprints are short operational cycles, which usually last around a month. During each Sprint, the teams work together on a certain task.

  • Sprint Planning

    • This is the first step of each Sprint, during which the teams plan the Sprint Goal and the work to be done to achieve it.

  • Daily Scrum

    • Every day, the team comes together to evaluate progress, challenges, and inefficiencies.

  • Product Backlog Refinement

    • The process of refining the list of tasks to be completed to improve the product.

  • Sprint Review

    • This event is held at the end of the sprint and aims to review the work completed and the way it changed the organisation.

  • Sprint Retrospective and Overall Retrospective

    • During these events, the team works with their Product Owners to evaluate how the teams worked together.

Some key elements of working in Sprints include:

  • A new Sprint starts immediately after the previous one is concluded;

  • Ensure the team sets and understands the sprint goal and how success will be measured - Definition of Done;

  • All teams start and end a Sprint at the same time.

The teams might also incorporate aspects of other frameworks such as OKRs to focus on business value.

1ovmany – How OKRs can be integrated with Scrum principles Integrating OKRs with Scrum | 1ovmany

Structure of LeSS

LeSS is considered to be an empirical framework based on experiments.

In turn, no two organisations will use an identical LeSS structure.

However, what does remain the same across all organisations adopting LeSS is the rules of this framework.

Some of these key rules include:

  • Each team is self-managing and cross-functional

  • The majority of the teams are feature teams with customer-focused goals

  • Scrum Masters can work with 1-3 teams and their role is a full-time job

  • There is a single Product Backlog and a single Product Owner for each Sprint

  • Each team has its own Sprint Backlog and Sprint Retrospective

Principles of Large Scale Scrum

As seen, LeSS follows certain predetermined rules across all organisations, but the principles behind this framework are created to be adopted by different companies.

These key principles are:

  • Large-Scale Scrum is Scrum

  • Transparency

  • More with LeSS

  • Whole Product Focus

  • Customer-Centric

  • Continuous Improvement Towards Perfection

  • Lean Thinking

  • Systems Thinking

  • Empirical Process Control

  • Queueing Theory

Guides and Experiments of Large Scale Scrum

As seen above, the LeSS framework is an empirical one, meaning that it is based on experiments that organisations try in accordance with the Guides outlined by Craig Larman and Bas Vodde in their book “Large-Scale Scrum: More with LeSS”.

The importance of these experiments comes from the assumption that product development is a highly complex field, in which a predetermined set of rules or “one-size-fits-all” approaches won’t work equally well in every situation.

Instead, through experiments, organisations can elaborate their own product development approach and framework, which can be then refined through each Sprint.

LeSS Huge

The Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) framework is designed to help growing organisations introduce a lightweight framework within their product development projects.

However, not all growing organisations are of the same size or have the same growth goals.

That is why LeSS is subdivided into two frameworks:

  • LeSS

    • the traditional LeSS framework aims at supporting organisations with eight teams or fewer, each of which includes up to eight people.

  • LeSS Huge

    • this alternative framework helps scale up a Scrum structure in organisations with thousands of people working on a single product.

Getting Started With LeSS: Partner With a Scrum Master

Although the lightweight nature of Scrum and LeSS frameworks makes it easier for teams to support their agile development, a change in internal structure might not always be so easy.

Because of this, when looking to implement LeSS, you should take some fundamental steps:

  • Promote the training of team members as Scrum Masters or hire an external professional

  • Join a Scrum Master Network to continue learning about LeSS implementation

  • Work on maintaining your agile development mindset and focus on “continuous improvement towards perfection”.

  • Involve all teams in your organisation

  • Designate the initial Scrum Team and Product Backlog

Even more importantly, consider partnering with an Agile Transformation specialist.

At 1ovmany our team has the experience and knowledge needed to guide you along in the process of adopting a LeSS framework.

We can do this without the added stress of significantly altering your organisational structure.

Get started by booking your free consultation with us today.

1ovmany Communications Team

About the author

1ovmany Communications Team

We help organisations reach their full potential through continuous and sustainable transformation in customer delivery and product excellence

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