Category Archives: MeetUp

Exploring the Role of the Product Owner & Scrum Master through LeSS

The role of Product Owner and Scrum Master are very clearly defined in the Scrum Guide.
But the guide does talk about these two roles in a context of complex organizational settings, where products are large and many people are involved in product development.
What happens then?

Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) has some answers. LeSS is an organizational DESIGN framework, where a single team – is a long-lasting, organizational building block.In this session, Gene Gendel (Certified LeSS Trainer and LeSS Coach), will share some insights about the role of Product Owner and Scrum Master in LeSS:
• Responsibilities
• Communication
• Organizational positioning
• Career path
Note: prior to attending this session, please review the following pages on less.works site:
https://less.works/less/framework/product-owner
https://less.works/less/framework/scrummaster

April 09-10: Certified LeSS Basics (CLB) Course | Virtual

Another engaging and highly interactive Certified LeSS Basics (CLB) virtual class is complete.   People attended from many corners of the map: UK, USA, Canada, Argentina, Spain, Kuwait, Australia.  The students engaged in a highly interactive collaboration, with questions and exercises, using Causal Loop Diagram (CLD) technique, exploring the following topics: Agile Big-Bangs, Internal Contracts, Local Optimization, Product Definition, Fake Projects/Programs/Portfolios, Scrum Master Role, Fooling with Tooling.
Note: the below graphics are not conclusive decisions or ‘best practices’. They are just an example of brainstorming, based on each teams members’ experience.

System Modelling: Agile Big-Bangs
System Modelling:  Internal Contracts
System Modelling: Local Optimization
System Modelling:  Product Definition
System Modelling: Scrum Master Role
System Modelling: Fooling With Tooling
System Modelling: Fake Projects, Programs, Portfolios

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Next Training Series:

04/07 – LESS TALKS: Irony With Fake LeSS (is_Scrum) Adoption, with Dr. Wolfgang Richter, CLT

Dr. Wolfgang Richter is the founder and CEO of JIPP.IT GmbH (https://www.jipp.it/), an Agile Change Agency. He is a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST), Certified LeSS Trainer (CLT) and Coach and works with Scrum and Agile Methods since 1998. He and his team specializes in improving processes and structures by using agile methods and principles. Agile Transformations is one of the main activities. Scrum and LeSS are his preferred approaches for internal and customer driven projects.


This is going to be a fun story. Lots of IRONY.
When an organization hits Large-Scale Scrum, it is most likely to begin with a fake adoption. Scaling per sé is not easy. And it is not recommended. However, large enterprises rarely have a choice. So what can be done to handle the burden of scaling? Which pitfalls can be observed regularly? What is against all odds likely to succeed?


03/31 – LESS TALKS: An introduction to Beyond Budgeting – Business Agility in practice, with Bjarte Bogsness

Bjarte Bogsnes has a long international career, both in Finance and HR. He is a pioneer in the Beyond Budgeting movement, and has been heading up the implementation of Beyond Budgeting at Equinor (formerly Statoil), Scandinavia’s largest company. He led a similar initiative in Borealis in the mid-nineties, one of the companies that inspired the Beyond Budgeting model.
Part 1 Part 2

The level of VUCA; volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity in our business environments is at a record high. People also expect more from work than just a paycheck. How can we enable performance in these new business and people realities? How can we create more VUCA-robust management models, which also works with and not against human nature? How can we create a more engaging work environment, where people perform at their best because they want to, not because they are told to?This workshop will address how key principles in the Agile manifesto can work in running an entire organisation, where people and interactions are more valued than processes and tools, and where responding to change is more important than following a plan. You will get unique insights into Business Agility in practice, both from a managerial, financial and human perspective. You will benefit from Bjarte Bogsnes’ extensive experience. He has helped companies all over the world getting started on a Beyond Budgeting journey, including his employer Equinor (formerly Statoil) – where the budget (and much more) was kicked out in 2005. This and many other great case stories and practical examples will be shared.

Learn how to trust and empower without losing control, and how to redefine performance – with dynamic and relative targets (or no targets at all) and a holistic performance evaluation.

Understand how dynamic forecasting and resource allocation works, and also other examples of self-regulating management mechanisms, including transparency. Bjarte will also share insights into KPI pitfalls and bonus problems.

Learn from the fringes! Understand how management innovation can provide just as much competitive advantage as technology– and product innovation!


03/30 – LESS TALKS: Virtual Collaboration & Facilitation Lab – Part 2

One of the most powerful techniques to understand organizational design and dynamics is to model them, with your colleagues, in front of a white board. Not according to ‘best practices and cook books 😉 but based deep system thinking and shared understanding, by all participants.

But what if you cannot get together in front of a white board???

Miro Board In combination with Zoom (shared session & team rooms), will give you an opportunity to collaborate on-line – together by diverging into teams and converging in a large group. Lets try this together!

Since Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) is NOT a ‘methodology’ or ‘set of tools’ but an organizational design framework, system modelling is its critical part. But even if it was not for LeSS, understanding the way your system (e.g. enterprise) behaves could be very powerful.

Please, note, once you learn this stuff, you will not be able to ‘unlearn’ it and your knowledge could be viewed by others, as dangerous 😉 (and frustrating to you).

In this session, we will try bringing real life system modelling conversations (please, see examples of images from past LeSS training below to gain understanding) into a virtual session.

Examples of real-life CLDs:


Common Misconceptions About Agile Multi-team Software Development

Michael Jamesis a software process mentor, team coach, and Scrum trainer with skills in Product Ownership (business), Scrum Mastery (facilitation), and the development team engineering practices (TDD, refactoring, continuous integration, pair programming) that allow Scrum to work. MJ has been involved with LeSS (Large Scale Scrum) longer than anyone else on the US West Coast. He is a recovering “software architect” with programming experience back to the late 1970s, and including control systems for aircraft and spacecraft

Edited Version (about 32 minutes)


Original Version (about 60 minutes)


We often hear that the Agile approach to multi-team development is to pre-divide products into small independent pieces for different teams to work on, perhaps using implementation approaches such as microservices and coordination approaches such as “Scrum of Scrums.” This advice illustrates widespread blind spots in the Agile coaching and training community. We will challenge those in this online discussion.

To get the most out of this session, we suggest reading the comic book that went viral Why “Scrum” Isn’t Making Your Company Very Agile, How Misconceptions About The Product Owner Role Harm Your Organization, And What To Do About It.

Related artifacts:


Upcoming LeSS Training On-Line

03/03 – LESS TALKS: “What is Your Product?”, with Ellen Gottesdiener

To be product-aligned and customer-focused, everyone in your product development ecosystem needs to agree on the answer to the question, “What is Your Product?” Many organizations don’t have clarity on what their product or products are. Ambiguity and disagreement on the answer contribute to slow response to changing customer and market needs and less than satisfying product outcomes. It thwarts your efforts to scale agile product development and causes a plethora of organizational and communication woes.Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) rightly states that this question—and the imperative to answer it—is one of your most important decisions for successful product development. A clear answer to “What is Your Product” powers all aspects of product development, including product management roles, team organization, and product activities. The implications are vast and deep, especially in large enterprises. Product definition is one of the paramount steps in LeSS adoption. Depending on how a product is defined (how widely) an organization may consider simple LeSS or LeSS Huge. Based on the ladder, team structure and alignment is defined, product owner team is created, etc. Product definition has a significant impact on LeSS organisational design.Based on ongoing work with a variety of organizations, Ellen shares techniques for enabling product development leaders and communities to define their product using a cohesive set of product definition principles. In this keynote, Ellen will share why this question is so vital to your product success and ways she’s helped organizations co-discover the answer to the question, “What is Your Product?”

Whether your organization’s product or products are a primary source of revenue or are essential for your business operations, you will learn techniques that help instill product-thinking and shared understanding.

Ellen Gottesdiener’s Bio

Ellen is a Product Coach and CEO of EBG Consulting focused on helping product and development communities produce valuable outcomes through product agility. Ellen is known in the agile community as an instigator and innovator for collaborative practices for agile product discovery and using skilled facilitation to enable healthy teamwork and strong organizations. She is the author of three books on product discovery and requirements, frequent speaker, and works with clients globally. In her spare time, she is Producer of Boston’s Agile Product Open community and Director of Agile Alliance’s Agile Product Management initiative. You can connect digitally via:
https://ebgconsulting.com/blog/
https://twitter.com/ellengott
https://ebgconsulting.com/newsletter.php
https://www.linkedin.com/in/ellengottesdiener


02/27 – LESS TALKS: Q & A on “The Spotify “Model”: Don’t Simply Copy-Paste”, with Evan Campbell

Recently, Evan  Campbell wrote an article on SolustionsIQ site: The Spotify “Model”: Don’t Simply Copy-Paste.  It resonated strongly with  many people. This LinkedIn feed alone attracted more than 23,000 viewers and it is growing.

On February 27, Evan was a guest-speaker at Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) meetup of NYC, answering questions about his views and the writing.  The video recording and transcript with live questions are below:

Top 5 Questions submitted before the session:
  1. Evan’s article talks about many large companies blindly adopting the Spotify model, because this is the strong recommendation they get from large consultancies. Are there any examples, at least, when such recommendations were followed and implemented successfully? It seems that ING success is overly inflated.
  2.  In the article, there is mentioning of hard-line reporting within the “chapter” or the “tribe” structures? It means that historical/orthodox challenges of organizational design persist in new “agile” structures. Could you elaborate on that?
  3. In the article, there is mentioning of random consultancies’ PowerPoint solutions, in which a heavy deck is the most important asset delivered. It is often delivered by a consultant who has very little industry experience, yet presents from the deck ‘as if’ it was the best known practice. Any comments on that?
  4. Our organization is big and one-team Scrum is not sufficient. If Spotify is not the right solution to scale, then what is?
  5. Our company was advised to adopt Spotify model. Today, some of old vertical organizational structures (e.g. QA department, Architecture group) have become chapters, and people are mandated to be a part of those chapters. Used to be managers, are now chapter leads. Nothing seems to be changing. What are your thoughts on this?

02/18 – LESS TALKS: Tsvi Gal, CIO/CTO @ multiple Fin-Techs: sharing experiences about organizational agility



Tsvi Gal is an accomplished technology business leader, the winner of the Einstein Award for technology excellence.  Tsvi had served as CTO and CIO at a number of large enterprises: Morgan Stanley, Bridgewater Associates, Deutsche Bank Investment Banking, Time Warner Music Group and other companies.  Tsvi has extensive experience in technology and operations, mostly in financial services, media and telecom.
In his recent career, Tsvi led the divisional Agile & DevOps transformation and the changes to the ways of work in technology, workforce strategy and front-to-back initiative.

Some questions presented & answered:
  • When someone wants to transform, it implies that there is a need to transform (change). What were some of the most pressing needs, in your experience, to go through changes? Something did not work? Was not efficient? Other?
  • How many people were involved in the transformation? How long did it take? Who was spear-heading this effort: internal coaches, external coaches, mix of both, PMO, etc?
  • How did you address HR related issues that frequently arise when agile teams are being stood up: individual performance appraisals, bonuses, promotions, career path?
  • Who provided guidance to technical excellence during the transformation? Technical coaches (internal, external)? Were teams using TDD, CI/CD?
  • Did you use any known agile frameworks ro scaling approaches? Or was it all internally defined?
  • DevOps vs. DevSecOps? Any difference? Is it dev practice or org. silo?
  • HR is years behind, when it comes to agility. Why? Do not blindly copy & paste (e.g. Spotify model)

11/13 – LESS TALKS: NYC LeSS CLP and Meet-Up with Craig Larman

NYC LeSS Meetup with Craig Larman (Video Recording)
Summary by a featured guest-blogger, Enterprise Strategy & Organizational Design expert and Certified LeSS Practitioner – David Stackleather.

I had the opportunity to watch the NYC LeSS Meetup with Craig Larman via video. I attended one of these when Craig was in California, and have attended two CLP training sessions with him, so I have some idea about his message. It’s always useful to hear the news again if for no other reason than to overwrite some of the general nonsense one hears so often in the hallways of the average corporation or on the average Slack channel. Fresh air is good for the soul.
For those who haven’t heard Craig speak, or attend one of his training sessions, the best way I can describe him is that he’s the honey badger of change consultants, he just doesn’t give a, well you catch my drift. There aren’t a lot of weasel words or marketing fluff. Just the simple facts as he sees them. These facts, a description of reality really, can be challenging to hear at times. It’s why you often hear folks giggling uncomfortably in these sessions when Craig says something stark. The thing everyone should understand is, he’s not joking. So pay attention.
Although these sessions only run an hour or so, there is enough content to fill a book, literally. The concepts go deep, and the skills and tactics mentioned in a few sentences can take years to master and fully understand (things like systems modeling, for example). Here are just a few items that stood out to me during this particular session.
Scale Matters
A difficult thing to understand for many is that behavior at small scale is almost meaningless at large scale. Everyone wants to think they can improve their process, or get a little better at their job (or, hope that the other guy gets better at his). Larman makes the point that at scale, it’s the structure that drives change. The root cause of the problems many large enterprises encounter are the result of their design not how good the developer sitting in a cube on the 42nd floor is. Deming taught us this long ago; the workers are not the problem; the problem is at the top.
I like to think of this scale issue from the standpoint of process improvement. In process improvements focused on cycle time, improving the performance of individual processes is unlikely to improve end to end cycle time much if at all. Just messing with the procedures is just as likely to elongate the cycle time as it is to reduce it. The queues and delays between are the story. It’s the structure of the process that must change, not the pieces. Same for organizations. This is a very difficult message for folks to hear if they are not in the mahogany lined offices on the top floor. You can improve locally, and that is all well and good, and I’d advise it, because moving forward is the only way to survive, but it won’t solve your organization’s problems.
The market for deep change
Craig makes the point that the worldwide market for deep change, meaning those companies that really want to change at a fundamental level, is small, perhaps 500 companies total.
I’m not sure how many companies there are but I found online that the total listed companies across all stock exchanges is around 45,000. This is wrong, no doubt. It excludes private companies (some of which can be very large even in countries with deep financial markets where listed would be advantageous), and many of those 45,000 companies are likely rather small. But given that number, we’re looking at one percent of listed companies as being open to real, fundamental, change. That’s a sad state of affairs, but there are deep-seated reasons that there is so little appetite for change at the power center of companies.
Without a profound sense of urgency deep change doesn’t happen. Until leaders are backed against the wall with a real crisis, they are loath to upset the very system that has provided so much. Most large organizations are elegantly designed to provide a steady stream of only what the boss wants to hear. Everyone down the chain of command is in on the game as well, so they want to play by the rules as well. Any information that is raw, real, and innovative is squeezed of real value before it ever gets to the board room. This all feeds very nicely into the strong confirmation bias we all have. It’s very near a closed-loop system in many organizations I’d wager, recycling the same excuses over and over again.
Problems are provoked with fake change
Fake change are those change efforts where the senior leaders are unwilling to fundamentally change the organization, even if they say they are. Instituting change in this environment can provoke existing power structures. When problems inevitably are uncovered, there isn’t the courage to tackle the root cause. There isn’t the courage because that wasn’t the point. The most significant sign that the organization isn’t ready for real change is the avoidance of making the fundamental structural changes necessary. There will often be reasons to retain the old structure or relabel them. If that’s the case, it’s just a show. If you begin a change program in such an environment, you run the risk of awakening a dragon with no ability to slay it, at least organizationally. The problems initially articulated that provided the excuse for the change are not resolved and perhaps made worse by the change chaos. In some cases, it would be better to let the dragon sleep.
Is it hopeless?
Perhaps 99% hopeless. But that means there is a chance! Larman makes a great point about the individual, however. A point I think too many people miss because it’s uncomfortable. If you are in management, or any other specialist function that isn’t directly related to building something customers are willing to pay for, plan your exit. Learn a skill, become valuable. So many people operating in large organizations are intently focused on moving up the hierarchy that they forget that the purpose, at least in theory, of hiring anyone for anything is the skills that person brings to the table. If you never gain marketable skills or let them atrophy after years in the corporate environment, you will find yourself a prisoner. A prisoner of the very same organization you complain about.
Certified LeSS Practitioner –  Feedback From The Room

Summary by a featured guest-blogger, Agile Coach and Certified LeSS Practitioner – Soledad Rivero.

Definitely, participating in Craig Larman’s CLP training has fundamentally raised the bar for me, as a change agent, Scrum Master and Agile Coach. I managed to incorporate new concepts that will not only help me in my current situation, but will also be handy for many years to come. During this course we dont get into a deep dive of LeSS experiments (there are more than 600 of them and for that, there are 3 books that provide guidance, with examples and practical techniques in different chapters).  Instead, in this course we had a very unique 3-day experience with Craig, as he taught how to design your organization in a systemic way, thinking systemically, seeking to optimize the whole and not just locally. This course broke my mindset and perception and then put it back together again.  It opened up my mind, giving me more tools, and energy to keep changing things.

As Craig said in class: “to be an agent of change in an organization you need a lot of patience and big amount of sense of humor“.   It will not be easy, but for sure it will be worthy. Thanks again for amazing learning opportunity!

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