LeSS Training – Experience Report

A couple of weeks ago I attended the training “Certified LeSS Practitioner”. Provided by Co-Learning with Jurgen de Smet as the trainer. It took a while before I could write this experience report. I needed some time to digest the vast amount of information. In this article I’ll share my findings on attending the 3-day LeSS training. They might be useful for you if you’re also considering this course.

What is LeSS?

LeSS is Scrum applied to many teams working together on one product.

LeSS is Scrum—Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS) isn’t new and improved Scrum. And it’s not Scrum at the bottom for each team, and something different layered on top. Rather, it’s about figuring out how to apply the principles, purpose, elements, and elegance of Scrum in a large-scale context, as simply as possible. Like Scrum and other truly agile frameworks, LeSS is “barely sufficient methodology” for high-impact reasons.

Scaled Scrum is not a special scaling framework that happens to include Scrum only at the team level. Truly scaled Scrum is Scrum scaled.

This description of LeSS is copied directly from the website of LeSS. Let’s be clear: if you want to know the basics: study the content on the website or read the latest book “Large-Scale Scrum – More with LeSS“. You don’t have to attend the 3-day course if you looking for some superficial tips & tricks.

But… if you want to really grasp the underlying values and principles, reading about LeSS won’t be enough. You need to experience it. That’s precisely why I needed some time to digest the training: it was an intense learning experience with a strong focus on the LeSS principles.

My Top 3 Learnings

Systems thinking

My personal top 3 learning are about systems thinking, contract thinking and the Definition of Undone. The whole concept of systems thinking was pretty new for me. Although I’ve read some articles about this topic, I hadn’t really used it. In hindsight I’m wondering what I have been doing all these years… Systems thinking is about seeing, understanding, and optimising the whole system (not parts), and use causal-loop modeling to explore system dynamics. During the training we continuously practiced with this principle. The idea was to avoid the local and sub-optimizations of focusing on the ‘efficiency’ or ‘productivity’ of individuals and teams. I consider this the most powerful instrument I’ve learned the past years!

Contract thinking

We started the 3-day training with the concept of contract thinking. This was definitely the best topic to start with, because “in real life” it’s the contract that strongly influences the collaboration between all parties. Personally I’ve got quite a few experiences with how a contract can damage the relationships before the product development even started. In this blog post Jurgen shares his view on contract thinking. This quote says it all…

Contracts get signed when both parties have maximized their opportunity to shift blame to the other party.

Definition of Undone

According to the LeSS.works website the Definition of Done is an agreement between the teams and the Product Owner on which activities are performed inside the Sprint. A Definition of Done is perfect when it equals to Potentially Shippable. The teams strive to improve towards a perfect Definition of Done. The difference between the Definition of Done and Potentially Shippable is called “Undone Work”. When the Definition of Done is perfect then there is no Undone Work. During the training we created a Definition of Undone. This list of Undone Work made the possible improvements for the team very transparent and tangible. Every Sprint the team can try to make the list of undone work smaller and thus increasing the quality.

Would I Recommend This Training?

Well, yes and no. I definitely recommend this training to people with solid knowledge of the Scrum framework. The people who attended Jurgen’s training all had multiple years of Scrum experience. This really triggered some great in-depth dialogues. You don’t have to be a Scrum expert, but the training doesn’t cover the basics of Scrum in detail. If you’re new to Scrum you might consider following a Professional Scrum Master training first. And I know just the guy who can help you with this…

As with every training, the trainer itself will have a large impact on the result. The approach Jurgen used ensured this was a positive impact. He found a nice balance between sharing his own experiences (which were tremendously valuable) and offering team-based exercises that generated new insights.

A word of warning… please do take into account this training is highly interactive, energetic and dynamic. I’ve added this video as indisputable evidence!  😉

Closing

The 3-day “Certified LeSS Practitioner” was definitely money spend well. The way Co-Learning facilitated the event was great. But… I felt like a Scrum rookie again afterwards. As a Game of Thrones fan I consider myself Jon Snow in this scene. So don’t follow this training if you want to keep the feeling you’re a Scrum expert! But if you’re ready to become consciously incompetent and want to boost your Scrum journey: follow this training!