Large Scale Scrum LeSS as Advanced Scrum Master
- Simplest way to understand what LeSS is – consider Large Scale Scrum LeSS as Advanced Scrum Master. Although there is a lot of ideas in LeSS, be sure that LeSS is Scrum. It’s not adding a bunch of roles and artifacts. It’s deepening the understanding of principles that make Scrum so powerful, even at scale. It’s just that the two day Certified ScrumMaster workshop doesn’t have time to go in depth into these 10 principles. The CSM is a starting point for a single, co-located, cross-functional, non-matrixed team. Is that what you have? If not, how are you tackling those problems? LeSS provides the guides and experiments to try out, but without going away from the simplicity of Scrum.
- Scrum changes the way we work, but we didn’t change the workplace. Commonly the org chart looks the same after a company says it “went agile,” as it was before. But let’s be honest – if my job as a Project Manager was to make sure requirements were clear and to keep the project on track, who does that work now in Scrum? The Product Owner and the Product Development Team. Or when I was a manager, part of my job was to make sure my people were busy and were working on the right thing. A manager doesn’t need to do that now in Scrum. So, what does the Project Manager and Manager do now in Scrum? Well, there’s a whole section of the LeSS workshop and the book on that (https://less.works/less/
management/index.html), and it’s a huge help. At a current client, they are having conversations about existing roles, titles and positions that were previously met with fear, uncertainly, doubt and resistance, and they are welcoming change (sending them to the Certified Agile Leadership helped as well).
This lead-by-example approach of leadership and management sends a powerful message to all the Scrum teams – “We really mean it this time – things are really changing.” Why? Because we all see management changing.
Why take Certified Scrum Developer Training
We’re hosting the Certified Scrum Developer Training throughout Southern California. Why take Certified Scrum Developer Training? Co-founder of Scrum, Ken Schwaber, said, “Scrum will fail without those developer practices within Scrum.” Now, Scrum doesn’t necessarily tell you how to do the work, but what we look to a lot is the XP, or Extreme Programming practices, and the reason this is so important is, we’re changing the way we’re working on Scrum to quickly deliver value. Now, we can deliver shoddy value or really great value. We’re looking for how do we do that really well. Everything from knowledge silos that he’s the only one that knows that, or what do we do with the dev/QA way that they work, and how they get them to work together. A lot of that’s covered in this class. We’re looking at practices you might have heard of, but we haven’t got a chance to actually hands-on learn. Such as test-driven development, continuous integration, relentless refactoring, pair programming … These are all key to how do we make this work really well within that scrum context, moving focus from being experts to more generalist and sharing the knowledge around.
Now, my experience as a manager, and I used to be a developer, is you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. If I’m the developer, I don’t have time right now to try out these new practices. And the truth is, we might have to slow down to speed up later. So if I was a developer, I get it, we need to guide you to hands-on, not with the book learning. Hands-on is the best way of learning. The doing is the learning. The Certified Scrum Developer Training class will focus on hands-on. Your computers will be up within an hour, and you’ll be methodically working through Test Driven Development, Pair Programming and Regression Testing.
For the managers, keep in mind we want to support Scrum and how teams work, and allow people to share that knowledge that’s going to give you more fungibility of resources, allow teams that really can support themselves whatever the workers have to do, even when they change technology or use tools. With the learning as they go and the way that shares that knowledge. These are the ways and techniques we do them, and suggesting and telling it isn’t nearly as effective as getting a sit down with an expert, guiding them through these tools and techniques to do this hands-on. So, Why take Certified Scrum Developer Training? There’s a lot of value in there that’s going to continue to only grow as you take some folks back and that knowledge gets shared in your organization. We really encourage you to look at it. You, your teams, your organizations. We want to help you find and take your next step. Good luck to you on your journey.
Scott Dunn with Rocket Nine Solutions in Orange County, Southern California, offers Certified Scrum Master Training, Product Owner Training, and other agile training and coaching.
Agile Adoption Preparation
I’ve recently been coaching at a company, and I’ve seen the most impressive agile adoption preparation ever. And we haven’t even “started” yet.
“Normal” Agile Adoption Preparation
Most companies call us in to help kick-off their agile adoption, but they have:
- Already decided on the approach (Scrum) and details (sprint length, day of week, etc)
- Already decided how many teams and who would be on the teams
- Already decided who would be Scrum Master
But they don’t:
- Train everyone, including management and leadership
- Change how they build software – TDD, CI, CD, ATDD/BDD (DevOps & XP)
- Consider whether the organization is structured best for agile (PMO, Dev & QA reporting lines, Program Management, etc)
A Better Way
After some discomfort with what I was seeing with a SAFe adoption, despite initial fondness for SAFe, I went to look into LeSS (Large Scale Scrum). One line that stuck with me from the class with Craig Larman –
“It’s the difference of Owning, versus Renting, your agile adoption.”
Signs of Owning your Agile Adoption
That’s why I’ve been so happy with the current agile adoption preparation. We haven’t kicked off, and it’s been a couple months. But they have:
- Formed an Agile Roll-Out leadership team (Kotter’s Guiding Coalition)
- All read the new Large-Scale Scrum book
- Clarified WHY the company needs to go agile based on a grouping and prioritization of all their perspectives
- Decided on what their products were, and the to-be process that will build them
- Sent nine people to the Certified Agile Leadership workshop, where managers learned new aspects of how to lead in a collaborative environment and how to change culture.
- Decided to let the developers and testers choose what team they want to be on
- Already planning on investing by sending team members to the CSD training and LeSS workshop
Agile Adoption – Changing Managers
They already have more agile advocates in management than I’ve seen in a dozen companies. Management has already changed. In the past, I felt I was on police duty, tracking down the managers who were breaking the Scrum rules. During this period of agile adoption preparation I’ve heard managers say things I’ve never heard, like “I know my role is no longer to be the expert, but help create my experts so that I’m not the bottleneck,” and “I know I’ll likely be letting a lot of my people report to someone else since that makes more sense for alignment.”
They already own this.
And we haven’t even started yet…
5 Quick Wins from our Student Coaching Calls
Does leadership know what agile is and how Scrum works? If you’ve been to Scrum Master (or Product Owner) training, than you easily know enough to give a short description. Or you can use my 1 hour online course: An Introduction to Scrum and Agile. I’ve been surprised at how often management doesn’t understand much of agile, even though they are asking for it. This helps get everyone on the same page and ease conversations about change.
- If you have more than three teams, look into approaches to how to scale agile. My preference is LeSS (Large Scale Scrum), but SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) is the most commonly used (and abused). I’ve found it highly useful to look at how other people have solved problems (such as communication between teams or clear prioritization across teams) and try those best practices out first.
- Empower the teams. This could be as simple as having a bi-weekly agile round table discussion, a lean coffee morning, or other conversation starter for team members.
- In the spirit of empowering teams, double check what’s happening with the Team Retrospectives – are they going well, what’s happening with the results of them, does management have a list of what’s been asked by the teams? Are decisions made that affect the teams without asking the teams first what they think?
- Finally, do team members have opportunity for training? Of course, we have opportunities for training for Scrum Masters, Product Owner training, Certified Agile Leadership programs, and for baselining teams in what it means to be agile and do scrum that you can look into.