2018 LeSS Conference Materials Up

This was my very first time in New York. The 16 hours flight from Singapore didn’t make the conference experience less exciting. I was expecting to see some skyscrapers, however, got something looking like Amsterdam, hmmm. It’s nice that the LeSS conference got to keep its style as always. This keeps my hopes up for the next year LeSS conference in Munich.

Dependency Board

The keyword I heard a lot from people describing the conference is “humble”. This is also how I felt. People were sharing their experiences, which were full of courage, failures, surprises, marginal success, and occasional big victories.

I especially liked my ex-boss Tero Peltola’s keynote LeSS Huge at Nokia (Download Materials). Nokia LTE was the second LeSS adoption Tero did. I was involved as an Agile coach for years. It’s great to see the organizational changes from the most critical stakeholder’s perspective. Don’t miss the session video at InfoQ.

Next, I also liked LeSS Huge at BMW from Konstantin Ribel and Craig Larman. It’s interesting to see in such a big company as BMW autonomous driving how changes happen both from bottom-up and top-down. The materials are here. The video will be published later in November.

Craig’s second-day keynote was Blind Spots: Cognitive Biases and Systems, an interesting exploration of human cognition and the impact on organizational behaviour. Download Materials.

One thing I have been doing for a long time, but still find challenging is Product Backlog Refinement Workshop, especially when it takes more than a couple of teams together. This led me joining Nils Bernert’s Large group Product Backlog Refinement in LeSS & LeSS Huge. There I got more tools under my belt and learnt different facilitation tricks for splitting and detailing. Download Materials.

In Greg Hutchings’s Using Innovation Games (™) to compliment LeSS, I learnt about several tools that can help product exploration and also where to find more resources. You may take a peek on Youtube.

On my conference team table, I’ve heard a lot of excellent stories from Anton Bevzyuk regarding their practices. So I skipped his session How technical excellence helps in LeSS adoption and went to Michael James’s Test Driven Development (TDD) on flipcharts, which is a very interesting why of explaining TDD to non-tech people. However, when I finally saw Anton’s slides (Download Materials), I felt I really missed something great. Too bad, next time!

There were 22 planned sessions, together with team-based conference activities, multiple tracks of open space sessions and panel discussion. To download the session materials and watch session videos, please find them in the 2018 New York conference program.

2018 LeSS Conference - Teams and Conference Review

Team-based conference - iteration 3

Over a month ago, we had the third LeSS Conference in New York. Also this year, we made it into a Team-Based Conference. For more information on that, better read the description of team-based conference from the previous conference.

Self-designing team workshop

This year Alexey Krivitsky facilitated the self-designing team workshop. This is the initial workshop to form the teams that you are in for the conference. The aim of this is to demonstrate techniques that can also be used in a normal LeSS adoption. Alexey did it in an interesting way. He first let everyone find a buddy and then combined the buddies into teams. For the teams, he tried to maximize the diversity by calculating a diversity index and then have multiple rounds of adjusting. This was an interesting approach as you have one person who you are familiar with and the rest not. I had not experienced this approach before.

I ended up with my buddy Viktor Grgic and in an interesting team which we named “The Team”. Unfortunately, it seems we didn’t make a photo of our team, so I’m not able to share that. However, there were some teams that photo-ed themselves, so some examples,

7 Odd Men

7 Odd Men

LeSS Out

LeSS Out

LeSS Wanted

LeSS Wanted

(If you are reading this and have a team photo that isn’t here, let me know, I’ll add it)

The Conference

During the conference, the team meets up between the session. There they reflect on the session that they went to and share that information with the other team members. Therefore, you get to know something about all the sessions (your team went to). Also, our team would discuss the upcoming session.

Of course, in practice, the team reflection sessions end up to be a lot about not just sharing your conference experience, but about sharing your experience of LeSS adoptions in your company (or not yet). I personally enjoyed the team reflection sessions quite a lot although I missed quite some of them due to interruptions.

Conference Review Bazaar

The conference ends with a Conference Review Bazaar. This is, of course, an instance of a Sprint Review Bazaar in LeSS and we attempt to use similar facilitation techniques to practice those. In the conference review bazaar, the teams first need to work together for an hour to create their conference experience. This could be anything. The most common ones are a flipchart with the summary of the sessions or quotes from the different sessions. Some teams, however, get much more creative and they create a game, a movie, let other people create movies, or whatever they can come up with.

My team, the team, decided to build a huge paper plane and we wrote our learning on post-it notes and put them on the plane. We threw the plane around and also tried to throw it off the balcony. Making the plane was fun but it didn’t turn out to be the best idea as it wasn’t very much showable to the other teams.

The session ended with the Bazaar where all the people visited all the groups to see their creations and learn about their experiences. To make it a bit fun, this is turned into a competition where people can ‘vote’ for the ones they like most. Clearly our plane didn’t win.

Some of the conference review bazaar output photos are below.

Flipchart summaries of the conference


Plank challenge

One team created the plank challenge where you have to do the plank exercise while answering questions. Some photos from that:


Other games

Several other teams created other games, such at the wheels of wisdom:


Some game to pick numbers and colors


Some contest to immitate people


And then this…


In the end, the votes were counted



All in all, I personally had a lot of learning and fun. It was great to see so much people sharing with each other in a beautiful space. I’m already looking forward to next year (Munich). Thanks to all the participants.

2018 LeSS Conference - Open Space

LeSS Conference Open Space

Just like the previous years, we’ve had an Open Space during the LeSS Conference. Due to the many parallel session, the Open Space was unfortunately not as active as it ought to be. However, we’d like to share the Open Space results and thus put the photos of the different sessions in this post. Hope they are useful to you.

Open Space - Time-Space matrix

Time Space Matrix
Time Space Matrix

Open Space - The Space

The Space
The Rules

Open Space - The Sessions

Tips to Avoid During LeSS Adoption
LeSS Outside Software
LeSS Candidate Trainer Group Brainstorming
ScrumAlliance and LeSS

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!!