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LeSS Newsletter - July 2019

July 19, 2019

LeSS Conference Munich - 12-13 September 2019

LeSS Conference Munich2 more months and then... the LeSS Conference in Munich. We're very much looking forward to it as there are always lots of new people to meet and stories to hear. There have been a couple of changes to the conference program since the last newsletter that we would like to share with you. What didn't change is that we have a lot of experience reports from BMW, ING, SAP, Deutsche Bank, UBS, YSoft, Asian bank, and more. We did change the keynote on the first day. Originally we planned to have yet another keynote from BMW autonomous driving (we had one last year) but we changed that to the story of a LeSS adoption in ING lending.

The talks from Bas and Craig are also on the conference site now. Craig's talk is called Chicken Breeding & The Core Design Principles and he refuses to tell more about it. Though the title is self-explanatory... chickens. Bas' talk is called "Politics!" and it will share some experience and experiments for navigating organizational politics. All other topics are up to and can be found on the agenda, they range from automation to HR and from disadvantages of LeSS to improving the Product Owner.

We hope to see some of you in Munich. You can register to the conference through this link.

Software Failure - The sad story of Boeing 737 MAX

Boeing 737The last year there have been two unfortunate crashes of Boeing 737 MAX planes. These crashes have caught the attention on the LeSS community and has led to many discussions. Not because they were using LeSS for the development as they don't. But because the crashes have been caused by a failure in development and organizational dynamics which we frequently describe and try to counter-act when adopting LeSS.

The story of the Boeing 737 sounds like a typical example of what we refer to in LeSS as "the contract game." The dynamic where the market situation, in this case the competition between Boeing and Airbus, led to the organization wanting to speed up. This in turn leads to management pressuring the developers to deliver which almost always leads to short-cuts being taken that reduce quality (and safety in this case). This dynamic is unfortunately common in organizations and LeSS tries to avoid that by increased transparency, acceptance of reality, and increase collaboration. The descriptions of the 737 MAX cause analysis suggest this dynamic might have happened in this case too.

We are absolutely sure that nobody ever purposely created the 737 MAX problems. All people involved in the development did the best they could do for the area they had visibility over. And that often lead to problems when that perspective is too narrow, too compartmentalized. One LeSS Principle is the "whole product" principle which suggests that everyone in development need to understand how their part fits within the whole product, how their decisions impact the whole product. Perhaps more of a whole product perspective could have avoided the disasters with the Boeing 737 MAX.

If this piques your interest, below are some additional reading on the Boeing 737 MAX disasters:

LeSS Adoption in German Big Insurance

We are excited to share Wolfgang Steffens' case study describing the LeSS Huge adoption at a large German insurance company. The case study takes a critical look to which extend the department followed the LeSS framework and discovered a huge potential of improvements on how to do better next time. Originally, the department started with a dysfunctional setup of many Team Output Owners (they called POs) and team backlogs. The situation was so bad and for senior management the "fear of the unknown was less compared to the fear of the known". The LeSS Huge adoption was kicked-off with a self-designing team workshop to change the team structure from component teams to Feature teams. During the following two days, the new Feature teams held an initial Product backlog Refinement workshop which resulted in a Product Backlog with customer-centric items in it. We introduced Requirement Areas with Area Product Owners and one Product Owner. The introduction of LeSS Huge had improved the software quality noticeably and the department could respond more quickly to changing demands from Product Management. The result: improved collaboration between departments. The lack of top management commitment is the biggest sore point as it leaves the continuation of the LeSS adoption somewhat open. All in all, it was an overwhelming experience to witness how the culture can change within such a short time.

The case study can be found online and is called German Big Insurance.

As part of his journey to become a LeSS trainer, Wolfgang also created an interesting overview of LeSS which you can find included in this newsletter.

LeSS at Conferences

Scrum Gathering AustinRecently, a group of LeSS practitioners, who call themselves fans of LeSS, wanted to increase the visibility of LeSS in international conferences. They felt the visibility of LeSS was too low and more people can benefit from the LeSS ideas. They asked support from the LeSS Company to start increasing the presence at international conferences. The first conference which the fans of LeSS joined was the Scrum Gathering in Austin. We included a photo of the Product Owner of ScrumAlliance visiting the fans of LeSS booth.

Agile Japan 2019Next conference we wanted to support is the Agile Japan conference. The keynote of the conference was by one of the highest-funded Japanese start-ups called Groove X. They've been building Lovot, a robot who's purpose is to love and be with (if you want to know more, here and here are some introduction videos of their product). They have been using LeSS for developing Lovot. For a long time, they couldn't talk about their product. But now they can and we hope to hear more about their LeSS story in the future.

In a couple of weeks, the 2019 Agile conference will start and also the fans of LeSS will be there. Bas Vodde will join them and hope to provide people an introduction to LeSS and alternative, simpler ways of working with large groups of  people. We're looking forward to this.

Special thanks for Manoj Vadakkan, Gene Gendel, and Michael James to get this startede!

Learning resources


A few new communities were created during the last months. The ones we are aware of are:

You can find a list of communities we are currently aware of on the communities page of the LeSS site.