2018 LeSS Conference on twitter

Conference Experience Report by Ram

Though I have been associated with the Large Scale scrum (LeSS) community for about five years (though the “community” did not exist, I can think of my association with like minded folks) this is my first LeSS conference. While I used to attend a lot of conferences in the past, I have started focusing more on deep learning (by attending focused workshops) than focusing on conferences. But this year, I had to make an exception for the LeSS conference. Why? (a) It was the first LeSS conference in North America, (b) It was not very far, and (c) I was thinking that I might meet some of the smartest people in the LeSS community whom I may not meet otherwise, and (d) I have heard that it is a “team based” conference (unlike other conferences where you are on your own), and I wanted to find out what the heck it was. I was not disappointed.

The venue itself was very different from the conventional Agile conferences – not a hotel. That definitely caught my attention!! I was pleasantly suprirsed to see both Howard Sublet (the new Chief Product Owner from Scrum Alliance) and Eric Engelmann (the Chairman of the Board of Director of Scrum Alliance ). Howard and I had good discussions on LeSS, Scrum Alliance, the marketplace, and scaling.

Some sessions that I attended and major takeaways:

  • Day 1 morning keynote – Nokia LTE implementation – Takeaway – Yes, you can do Scrum with more than 5000 engineers
  • Day 2 keynote by Craig Larman. I always find Craig’s thinking fascinating and learnt quite a few interesting facts about cognitive biases (and strategies to overcome them).
  • LeSS Games – component team and feature team simulation lead by Pierluigi Pugliese – very interesting simulation – I used a variation of this in my CSM class past weekend and people liked it. I hope to write about sometime, in the coming days.
  • LeSS roles exercise by Michael James – I have always been a fan of MJ. Very interesting exercise which reinforces the concept of LeSS roles
  • TDD in a flip chart – Guess I was there again, with MJ. Well, just learned that you do not need a computer to learn about TDD.
  • An open space session with Howard Sublett on LeSS and Scrum Alliance partnership (yours truly was the scribe) – Lot of interesting discussions on market, strategy, and positioning of the LeSS brand. I personally got some insights from Rafael Sabbagh and Viktor Grgic.

Two days was short!! Time flew away. It was a great experience!! And I wish we could have a North American LeSS conference every year!!

Conference Experience Report by Mark

I’ve attended the 2018 LeSS Conference – my first – in the Angela Orensanz Center in New York. I was really inspired by the many great speakers, experiments and experiences and was glad I could help Jurgen de Smet by his workshop on Management 3.0 practices that can complement LeSS with experiments.

A couple of notes on the Conference; it has been the first Conference I attended in years where I actually learned a lot, either from the many speakers, experiments and experiences, but from my ‘team’ as well. As the LeSS Conference is a team-based conference, we reflected on the content and our insights during the Conference, which accelerated my learnings.

As I use many games and practices in organizations or courses, I’ve seen several great new games that I can use myself. The ‘building agile structures’ game of Tomasz Wykowski and Justyna Wykowska was the most outstanding game for me, because it makes the differences between component and feature teams very clear when scaling work, and I will use this for sure in the future. The experiences at Nokia by Tero Peltola were very inspiring and especially the focus on the competences (of everybody) and technical excellence I will take with me. Thoughts that will stick with me the most after the conference: the focus on technical excellence (including e.g. automation, code quality, engineering practices etc.) and the importance of the structure of the organization, following Larman’s fifth law ‘Culture follows structure’. The latter I’m already familiar with, but needs to be reprioritized in my mind again. The former will be my main learning goal the coming period and I will need to dust off my former experiences.

Interesting quote to think about, by Bas Vodde: ‘we should maximize dependencies between teams’ (to increase collaboration between teams).

My 2018 LeSS Conference

I enjoyed learning from Real people with Real solutions to problems many organizations try to solve(strikeout) avoid.

I wish I made it to parallel sessions too 👥😅, here is


Nokia’s journey

Manager’s view on failures and breakthroughs.Tero Peltola Bas Vodde did the impossible to summarize it in an hour, Thank you! There are no short cuts, always balance out long vs short terms, start with what’s possible.

Dependency Board

Link to the session and download materials

Self-designing Teams

Alexey Krivitsky took us through one of the most critical exercises to success. Emerson Mills thx for sharing with me your experience. Thank you both! Define product to be delivered, not preassigned roles/people; personal choice of the team is best motivator.

Link to the session

Effective coaching and common pitfalls

True coaching, secrets for making it sustainable->decentralize(!), along with anti-patterns very practical “how to”. Thank you Ari Tikka Gene Gendel!

Dependency Board

Link to the session and download materials

LeSS Huge in BMW

Nothing speaks louder than benefits of transformation being presented by the Firm itself.Bravo Konstantin Ribel!

Dependency Board

Link to the session and download materials

Discussion panel

Viktor Grgic Jürgen De Smet Venkatesh Krishnamurthy Mark Bregenzer Ran Nyman Craig Larman Cesario Ramos Bas Vodde Greg Hutchings Karim Harbott THANK YOU for making Thinking fashionable again! Loooking forward to Day2😉💪🏻👉🏻

Dependency Board


Blind Spots: Cognitive Biases and Systems

🎯Enlightening talk how much we truly control our own decision making process. Thank you Mr Craig Larman!

It takes deep understanding of human mind and system behaviour to successfully lead transformation. IMBO what I took away, what I think, or at least I think that’s what I think;) What tools we have to train mental stamina? What to change knowing blind spots? How we work in the fog of biases? How do we make change for better? How do we eliminate suffer in the way we work?…

Link to the session and download materials

Building Agile Structure

Experience impact of different structures in a fun way, while building common understanding across the board Thank you Justyna Wykowska and Tomasz Wykowski!

Dependency Board

Link to the session and download materials

Innovation Games

Learnt from the expert approach to sequencing games, its underlying purpose and best ways to leverage it, which comes only with years hands on experience. Greg Hutchings Thank you!

Dependency Board

Link to the session

Sustainable changes in large organizations

3 huge transformations. Merrill Lynch, UBS. Gordon Weir huge shout out! It’s close to impossible, but it’s doable. My favourite🗝Team=Product, if you get that, you get it all.

Dependency Board

Link to the session

Last, but not the least, beers, laughs and thought provoking conversations! Looking forward to hashtag#LeSS2019!

Dependency Board

Eliminate Dependencies, Don't Manage Them

If you worked in large organizations you have probably heard about the term “dependencies”. I am convinced that dependencies need to be eliminated, not managed. With a help of system diagrams in this article, I will uncover the main reasons why Scrum Teams suffer from dependencies, how they impact organizational agility, and what the fundamental solutions to this issue are.

How dependences inhibit Teams progress

The more dependencies, the less chances the feature will be done by the end of the Sprint. Thus, the more time it takes for the feature on average to go from Product Backlog queue to the market (cycle time). As a result, agility is reduced because the organization is unable to deliver potential value to the market quickly. This causes organizational stress.

A typical management response to organizational stress is “divide and conquer”. For instance, if there is a problem with the quality, let’s create a separate department “quality control” with set of its own KPIs. Creating new functions, units, component teams and coordination roles, managers strengthen the fragmentation of the organization. More fragmentation leads to even more dependencies.

Fragmentation Leads to More Dependencies

High average cycle time makes the organization less agile. But Scrum Teams should not have any dependencies!

Cross-functional teams have all competencies needed to accomplish work independently from ones not part of the team. The team model in Scrum is designed to optimize flexibility, creativity, and productivity. – Scrum Guide 2017

Why do dependencies exist

Basing on my long experience working with large organizations I see some reasons why the dependencies thrive:

  • Imperfect organizational design based on component teams ( “bus team”, “analytics team”, “Android Team”, “integration team”). It causes intensive fragmentation.
  • Incomplete cross-functionality (lack of one or more skills).
  • Unreasonably complicated architectural design ( “there are 256 systems in our organization)”, which inhibits creation of cross-component and cross-functional Scrum Teams.

How to get rid of dependences

The dependencies issue could be solved in two ways: with quick fixes or fundamental long-term solutions.

The quick fix is to visualize and manage the dependencies. E.g. creating additional coordination roles or using specific techniques (“ropes on the boards”). Yes, it somehow helps to survive and continue the movement. You become an artist of the visualization and dependency management. Your work looks like this:

Dependency Board

The fundamental solution is to completely eliminate the root of the problem by:

  • training people
  • making the complicated architecture simpler, reducing the number of components
  • changing organizational design and forming cross-component cross-functional Scrum Teams (Feature Teams)

In this case the board for the scaled Scrum could look much better (no dependencies):

Product Backlog

Feature Teams do not need the strings because there are no dependencies or they are trivial.

Let’s get back to the system diagramming. On one hand, we have a cycle explaining the rise of dependencies, on the other hand it is a quick fix of the problem, then a fundamental solution cycle and the final cycle of forming a culture of managing dependencies when time passes.

The bad news is that a strong culture of “managing dependencies” will hinder the implementation of the fundamental solutions.

System Model for Managing Dependencies


  • The more dependencies the less agile organization becomes.
  • Dependencies thrive because of the unnecessarily complex architecture, lack of skills, and suboptimal organizational design (component teams).
  • Creating additional roles and using dependencies management practices do not eliminate the fundamental issues.
  • Fundamental solutions are simplification of the architecture, Feature Teams and training people.

Do you manage dependences or want to eliminate them?

Scrum ON!