Large-Scale Scrum is Scrum
LeSS is a set of rules combined with guides for applying Scrum in a multi-team context. It is not a framework that applies Scrum at team level and then adds additional scaling processes, instead it is Scrum scaled on all the levels.
LeSS is not “new and improved Scrum.” Rather, it is regular Scrum, an empirical process framework in which you can inspect and adapt to any method and work in a group of any size. Large-scale Scrum is a set of additional rules and the set of tips that we have seen work in large multi-team, multisite, and offshore agile development initiatives. These tips are experiments to try in the context of the classic Scrum framework.
Be dubious of messages such as “Scrum 2.0,” “Scrum++,” “Scrum#,”, “UnifiedScrum,” “OpenScrum,” or “new and improved Scrum that should replace regular Scrum.” They may miss the point of empirical process control and the implications of Scrum. Here is Ken Schwaber, the co-creator of Scrum:
There will be no Scrum Release 2.0…Why not? Because the point of Scrum is not to solve [specific problems of development]… Scrum unearths the problems caused by the complexity and lets the organization solve them, one by one, over and over again. [Schwaber07]
LeSS (like Scrum) is a simple framework that exposes organizational problems. We are not suggesting that new ideas cannot arise and improve the framework. But attempts to ‘improve’ it are most often (1) avoidance of dealing with the weaknesses exposed when regular Scrum is really applied, (2) conformance to status quo policies or entrenched groups, (3) a belief in a new silver bullet practice or tool, (4) fuzzy understanding of Scrum and empirical process control, or (5) an attempt by the traditional consulting companies to take your money—“Accenture Scrum/Agile,” “IBM Scrum/Agile,” and so on.
Large-scale Scrum, like regular Scrum, is a framework for development in which the details need to be filled in by the teams and evolved iteration by iteration, team by team. It reflects the lean thinking pillar of continuous improvement. It is a collection of suggestions for inspecting and adapting the product and process when there are many teams—at least two teams and up to groups of 500 or 1000 people.
It is said that LeSS and Scrum are easy to understand but hard to use because they bring weaknesses to light. In the case of a small group (for example, 7 people) adopting Scrum within a large organization, the problems revealed and dealt with may be quite local. But in a larger product group (say, 500 people) adopting LeSS, systemic weaknesses in the organizational design are exposed in such things as structure, processes, rewards, people, and tasks. In this case, large-scale Scrum is a force for organizational change. This dynamic reflects the lean metaphor of lowering the water level—LeSS is a framework for making the rocks visible. Lowering the water is easy, the hard part is removing the rocks—especially when they involve organizational policy and structure.
Sources of Scrum
We recommend the following sources of learning about Scrum: