LeSS (Large Scale Scrum)

What is LeSS (Large Scale Scrum)?
Definition of LeSS (Large Scale Scrum)
LeSS which stands for both Large Scale Scrum as well as less complexity extends fundamental Scrum team practices like Sprint Planning with several multi-team coordination tactics and organizational restructuring techniques. This is done specifically to keep requirements unified while still minimizing excess hand offs or feedback delays even when substantially scaling up product groups from just one team towards hundreds of engineers by deliberately focusing precedence on collective ownership culture enabled through a systemic set of contracting of Product Definition guides rather than command procedures.

In the realm of product management and operations, Less Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) is a framework that has gained significant traction. This methodology, which is an extension of the Scrum framework, is designed to scale Scrum to large groups and complex projects. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of LeSS, its application in product management and operations, and how it can be leveraged to streamline processes and enhance productivity.

LeSS is based on the principles of empirical process control, self-organization, and continuous improvement. It aims to simplify the process of scaling Scrum, thereby enabling organizations to maintain agility even as they grow. This framework is not a rigid set of rules, but rather a flexible guide that can be adapted to meet the unique needs of each organization.

LeSS (Large Scale Scrum): An Overview

LeSS, or Large-Scale Scrum, is a framework for scaling agile development to multiple teams. LeSS builds on top of the Scrum principles such as empiricism, self-managing teams and provides a framework for applying that at scale. It provides simple structural rules and guidelines on how to adopt Scrum in large product development.

The LeSS framework is divided into two types: basic LeSS for 2 to 8 teams, and LeSS Huge for 8+ teams. Both types aim to apply the principles of Scrum on a larger scale, and they both require an organizational descaling as the prerequisite.

LeSS vs LeSS Huge

While both LeSS and LeSS Huge are designed to scale Scrum, they are used in different contexts. Basic LeSS is suitable for smaller organizations or those that are new to Scrum. It provides a simple, straightforward framework that can be easily understood and implemented.

On the other hand, LeSS Huge is designed for larger organizations with multiple teams working on the same product. It provides a more complex framework that can accommodate the needs of a large, diverse group. However, it also requires a greater level of commitment and organizational change.

Principles of LeSS

LeSS is based on a set of principles that guide its implementation and usage. These principles are derived from the Agile Manifesto and Scrum, and they include transparency, inspection, and adaptation.

Transparency refers to the visibility of all aspects of the product development process. This includes the progress of work, the state of the product, and the problems and challenges that the team is facing. Transparency is essential for making informed decisions and for fostering trust within the team.

Inspection and Adaptation

Inspection involves regularly checking the product and the process to ensure that they are meeting the team's goals. This includes reviewing the work that has been done, assessing the team's performance, and identifying any areas for improvement.

Adaptation, on the other hand, involves making changes based on the results of the inspection. This could involve adjusting the product, the process, or the team's behavior. The goal of adaptation is to continuously improve and to ensure that the team is always moving towards its goals.

Roles in LeSS

There are three core roles in a LeSS framework: Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Team. The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the product and the work of the development teams. The Scrum Master serves the team and the organization by promoting and supporting Scrum and LeSS. The Team, on the other hand, is responsible for delivering "Done" increments of product at the end of each Sprint.

Each role has a distinct set of responsibilities and they work together to achieve the goals of the product development process. The roles are designed to promote self-organization and empowerment, which are key principles of Scrum and LeSS.

Product Owner

The Product Owner in a LeSS framework has a critical role. They are responsible for defining the product vision, managing the product backlog, and prioritizing the work based on value. The Product Owner works closely with the teams to ensure that they understand the product vision and the goals of each Sprint.

One of the key challenges for a Product Owner in a LeSS framework is managing multiple teams. This requires strong leadership skills, excellent communication, and the ability to make tough decisions. The Product Owner must also be able to balance the needs of the teams with the strategic goals of the organization.

Scrum Master

The Scrum Master in a LeSS framework is a servant-leader for the teams. They are responsible for promoting and supporting Scrum and LeSS, by helping everyone understand the theory, practices, rules, and values. The Scrum Master helps those outside the team understand which of their interactions with the team are helpful and which aren’t.

The Scrum Master also facilitates the Scrum events as requested or needed and coaches the Development Team in self-organization and cross-functionality. They also help the team to create high-value products and remove impediments to the team’s progress.

Implementing LeSS in Product Management & Operations

Implementing LeSS in product management and operations involves a shift in mindset and a change in organizational structure. It requires an understanding of the principles of LeSS, a commitment to transparency, inspection, and adaptation, and a willingness to empower teams.

One of the first steps in implementing LeSS is to define the product. This involves identifying the product vision, the target customers, and the key features of the product. The product definition is critical as it guides the work of the teams and helps to prioritize the product backlog.

Organizing Teams

Organizing teams in a LeSS framework involves forming cross-functional, self-organizing teams. Each team should have all the skills and knowledge necessary to deliver a "Done" increment of the product. The teams should be small, ideally 7-9 members, and they should be stable, meaning that the team members stay together for a long period of time.

Teams in a LeSS framework also work in Sprints, which are time-boxed iterations of work. The length of the Sprint is determined by the team, but it is typically 2-4 weeks. At the end of each Sprint, the team delivers a potentially shippable product increment.

Managing the Product Backlog

Managing the product backlog in a LeSS framework involves prioritizing the work based on value and ensuring that the teams understand the goals of each Sprint. The Product Owner is responsible for managing the product backlog, but they should also involve the teams in the process.

The product backlog is a list of all the features, functions, requirements, enhancements, and fixes that need to be done for the product. The items in the backlog are ordered based on priority, with the highest value items at the top. The teams pull work from the top of the backlog at the start of each Sprint.

Benefits of LeSS in Product Management & Operations

Implementing LeSS in product management and operations can bring a number of benefits. It can help to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the product development process, enhance team collaboration and communication, and deliver higher value products to the customers.

One of the key benefits of LeSS is that it promotes transparency. This can help to improve decision making, foster trust within the team, and enhance the quality of the product. Transparency also enables inspection and adaptation, which are critical for continuous improvement.

Improved Efficiency

LeSS can help to improve the efficiency of the product development process by eliminating waste and reducing complexity. By organizing work into Sprints and delivering "Done" increments of product at the end of each Sprint, teams can avoid unnecessary work and focus on delivering value.

LeSS also promotes self-organization, which can enhance team efficiency. Self-organizing teams are able to manage their own work and make their own decisions, which can lead to faster decision making and more efficient processes.

Enhanced Collaboration

LeSS fosters a culture of collaboration and communication. By working in small, cross-functional teams, team members are able to share knowledge and skills, and work together to solve problems. This can lead to more innovative solutions and a higher quality product.

Collaboration in a LeSS framework is not just limited to the teams. The Product Owner, Scrum Master, and other stakeholders are also involved in the process. This can help to ensure that everyone is aligned and working towards the same goals.

Challenges of Implementing LeSS

While LeSS can bring many benefits, implementing it is not without challenges. One of the key challenges is the shift in mindset that is required. LeSS is not just a set of practices, but a way of thinking and working. It requires a commitment to transparency, inspection, and adaptation, and a willingness to empower teams.

Another challenge is the change in organizational structure that is often required. Traditional hierarchical structures are not conducive to LeSS, which promotes flat, team-based structures. This can require significant changes, which can be difficult and disruptive.

Resistance to Change

Resistance to change is a common challenge when implementing LeSS. This can come from team members who are comfortable with the status quo, or from managers who are reluctant to give up control. Overcoming this resistance requires strong leadership, clear communication, and ongoing support and training.

It can also be helpful to start small, with a pilot project or a single team, and gradually scale up. This can allow people to see the benefits of LeSS firsthand, which can help to overcome resistance.

Managing Multiple Teams

Managing multiple teams in a LeSS framework can be challenging. It requires strong coordination and communication, and a clear understanding of the product vision and goals. The Product Owner has a critical role in managing multiple teams, but they can also be supported by the Scrum Master and other leaders in the organization.

One of the key strategies for managing multiple teams is to ensure that they are cross-functional and self-organizing. This can help to reduce dependencies and enable teams to manage their own work. It is also important to foster a culture of collaboration and communication, both within and between teams.


LeSS is a powerful framework for scaling Scrum to large groups and complex projects. It is based on the principles of transparency, inspection, and adaptation, and it promotes self-organization and continuous improvement. While implementing LeSS can be challenging, it can also bring significant benefits, including improved efficiency, enhanced collaboration, and higher value products.

As with any framework, the key to success with LeSS is understanding its principles and adapting it to fit the unique needs of your organization. With the right mindset, the right structure, and the right support, LeSS can be a powerful tool for enhancing product management and operations.