Scrum… is a means to an end, a tool designed for a purpose: people, agility, value.

The house of Scrum
The house of Scrum

There’s no need to re-describe Scrum. If you’re on a journey to discover Scrum, I welcome you. I advise you to learn more than Scrum and discover agile & lean.

I greatly recommend the collection of articles by Mike Cohn and Alistair Cockburn.

After attending a few presentations and after reading the small book “Scrum, a pocket guide”, I pleasantly appreciate Gunter’s writing on the topics of Agility and Scrum. I encourage you to read these articles and recommend that little book. It’s written honestly and offers transparent descriptions.

With this are a bunch of excerpts and links (all text is copy-paste of blogs):

Agile and Scrum, entwined and related

Agile and Scrum, actually, are not interchangeable synonyms, but two inseparable ingredients in a software development ecosystem, pure chemistry.

Agile are the principles to Scrum, Scrum is a foundation for agility.

Read more…

The Scrum Stance

People employ empiricism to optimize the value of their work.

Read more…

Agility via Scrum

Agility is a state, a way of being; of people and of organizations. It is not a process, it is not a method. It is a state from which emerges flexibility, openness for change and fast responses to market changes. Scrum has become the most important Agile framework, allowing people and organizations to achieve this state of Agility. Scrum brings the rules and principles to organizations and their people to grow into this state of flexibility.

Read more…

To shift or not to shift (the software industry paradigm)

The software industry has for a long time been dominated by industrial views and beliefs. The universally accepted paradigm was in fact a copy-paste of old industrial routines and theories.

Although it was not widely and consciously admitted, but this did put the software industry in a serious crisis.

The House of Scrum The House of Scrum

The house of Scrum offers an open view on the world, while protecting from rigid behavior. Its inhabitants remain flexible at all levels to better deal with uncertainty, and shape -not predict- the future. They sense, probe and adapt at all levels. Scrum drives building better software products, and faster. In 30 days, or less. But, most of all, it restores energy and work pleasure for all involved.

Read more…

Scrum Values

Less known and probably under-highlighted, but therefore not less important, are the core Scrum Values upon which the framework is based.

Although not invented as a part of Scrum, or exclusive to Scrum, these values give direction to our work, our behavior and our actions. In a Scrum context the decisions we take, the steps we take, the way we play Scrum, the practices we add to Scrum, the activities we surround Scrum with should re-enforce these values, not diminish or undermine them.

Scrum values:

  • Commitment
  • Focus
  • Openness
  • Respect
  • Courage

Read more…

Yes, we do Scrum. And…

An article about doing Scrum and improving beyond Scrum. It also describes the Common adoption path of Scrum.

The Blending Philosophies of Lean and Agile

Beyond the clear similarities in Lean and Agile thinking, Agile has distinct practices that match the main Lean principles.

Read more…

Maximizing Scrum

It’s not only about “scaling”. It’s about “maximizing”.

Enjoy the scaling effect of maximizing. If you run out of improvements, consider adding teams. Choose wisely where you want to invest in first.

Read more…

Accountability is a quality of agile

In a context of Scrum the described inverted form of accountability leads to exactly the opposite of the Scrum tenets; cross-functional collaboration, utilizing collective intelligence, bottom-up knowledge creation, shared goals. Yet, accountability is essential. The false application of it doesn’t reduce its importance. Removing and avoiding accountability has disastrous effects as well; no vision, no focus, no direction, no choices, endless discussions and meetings, indecisiveness; a Gordian knot.

Scrum foresees a clear accountability for each Scrum role:

  • The Development Team is accountable for creating releasable Increments.
  • The Product Owner is accountable for maximizing the value of the work.
  • The Scrum Master is accountable for the understanding and application of Scrum.

These accountabilities are separated, yet all are needed. It is why these roles need to collaborate as a Scrum Team with a shared responsibility toward the organization, its customers and the wider ecosystem.

Read more…

Done is a crucial part of Scrum, actually

Done Increments are THE way to achieve agility through the empiricism of Scrum.

The empiricism of Scrum only functions well with transparency. Transparency requires common standards to work against and to inspect upon. The definition of done sets the standard for releasable.

The definition of done is essential to fully understand the work needed to create a releasable Increment and for the inspection of that Increment at the Sprint Review. The definition of done serves the transparency required in Scrum in terms of the work to be done and the work actually done.

Read more…

Scrum, actually

Scrum, actually, in itself is not the purpose. Scrum is a tool. Scrum enables people to live the art of the possible, to make the most out of every single day constrained by their means, to maximize the value of their work in the face of uncertainty.

Scrum, actually… is a means to an end, a tool designed for a purpose: people, agility, value.

Read more…

Releasable in Scrum, actually

The Development Team consists of professionals who do the work of delivering a potentially releasable Increment of “Done” product at the end of each Sprint. Only members of the Development Team create the Increment. (…) This Increment is useable, so a Product Owner may choose to immediately release it. (Source: The Scrum Guide)

In Scrum, actually… releasable means all work done to release to the market. Instantly.

Read more…

Agile and Scrum, actually

As with Agile, the Scrum Values and Scrum’s fundamental roles and rules as described in the Scrum Guide don’t change with scale. But scaled implementations of Scrum require different tactics in implementing the rules.

In Scrum, actually… Agile is the DNA driving the behavior throughout the software development ecosystem.

Agile and Scrum, actually, are two inseparable ingredients in a software development ecosystem.

Read more…

Meetings in Scrum, actually

Scrum’s events serve the empiricism that Scrum brings to software development. Empiricism thrives on inspection & adaptation. Inspection & adaptation happens at a frequency, in regular intervals. Adaptation only makes sense when inspection is done against reality, when the actual situation is made transparent.

In Scrum, actually… meetings are opportunities where people meet to change their mind.

Read more…

Team size in Scrum, actually

Try something you believe might work for you. Inspect it, adapt to your findings. Repeat. When heavily constrained in doing this, sticking to the guidance of having 3-9 people in a Development Team is a good idea.

In Scrum, actually… team size is a team decision.

Read more…

Velocity in Scrum, actually

Velocity in Scrum actually is an indicator of productivity, an indicator of how much software, preferably releasable software, a team has produced in a Sprint. That in turn is not a promise, nor a contract for the future. Predictions are fragile. Empirical process control has the potential of antifragility. We embrace complexity.

In Scrum, actually… velocity makes most sense if a measure of a team’s capability to create releasable software.

Read more…

Feature Teams

The Development Team (a.k.a. the team)

By the Scrum guide:

  • Self-organising: the team determines itself how to organise and execute their work
  • Cross-functional: the team possesses all the necessary skills and competences to produce a potentially shippable product increment

Feature team

The term feature team has been coined by Craig Larman and Bas Vodde (2010).


A feature team is a long-lived, cross-functional, cross-component team that completes many end-to-end customer features—one by one

A feature is able to take in a customer feature (requirement) and handle it end-to-end and in this way capable to deliver value iteration by iteration.

Feature teams


Most teams are not feature teams. There’s an attempt to create a cross-functional team, but that team does not possesses the skills necessary to implement a customer-centric feature end-to-end.

Traditional organisations are composed of component teams – a component team specialises in one particular line of work.

A feature team organization exploits speed benefits from specialization, as long as requirements map to the skills of the teams. But when requirements do not map to the skills of the teams, learning is ‘forced,’ breaking the overspecialization constraint.
Feature teams balance specialization and flexibility.

In large traditional structured organisations the number of component teams is huge: a sub team for each and every ‘phase’ of the project or system involved:

  • marketing / business concepts, business analysis, functional analysis, copywriting, visual design, user interaction / user experience design, technical analysis, technical design, front-end development (subteams by technology), back-end development (many subteams for each component or layer), network, server-system infrastructure, mainframe systems, webserver, etc – the list is long.

There’s a terrible overhead and waste in coordination, hand-overs, communication.

Coordination Chaos:

Creating true feature teams is a major and important step in the organisation’s redesign to become agile.

Generalizing specialists

The team itself is cross-functional, this means that the team as a whole requires the skills to implement the entire customer-centric feature end-to-end.

People within the team have multiple specialisation (skills): you need to ask and encourage (incentive) your team members to have secondary, tertiary skills. If the people don’t have those other skills, apply co-learning techniques.

Scott W. Ambler coined the term “generalizing specialists” to define the need for multi-disciplinary team members.

Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS)

Large Scale Scrum

Scaling Scrum addresses the questions/challenges that arise when applying Scrum (Agile) in a significant context: an organisation or project with multiple teams and possible multiple products. The scale can vary from a few teams to dozens of teams (e.g. a few hundred or even thousands of people). As such a framework for ‘Large scale,’ Scrum should scale indefinitely. The challenges/issues involved are cross-team coordination, organisational design, impediments resolution, backlog refinement and building one integrated product. Said, all the challenges you face in 1 team Scrum, but on a (much) large(r) scale.

The first advice given is: do not scale Scrum, do not multi-site! If you can create your software product with one team, go ahead and work with one team.

Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) can be called a ‘framework’ for scaling Scrum, but rather it defines a set of additional rules and guidelines. These rules are very much aligned with Scrum and feel very natural. LeSS does not introduce an extra detailed process layer on top of Scrum. In that perspective, LeSS is very straightforward and lightweight.

Large Scale Scrum = Scrum. This is rational and recognisable but does not take away the challenges. This is aligned with the vision of scaling Scrum by the official Scrum institutions: get basic Scrum right for your teams, scale only if necessary. Scale professional Scrum. Transparency is the key element to success. Unfortunately, most (large) organisations are very un-transparent in most things. A scaling Scrum framework remains a framework (not a one-size-fits-all solution) for complex product development. Teams will need to apply practices and methods and measure work empirically.

LeSS and LeSS Huge

  • LeSS: Up to eight teams
  • LeSS Huge: Up to a few thousand people on one product

LeSS clearly defines building one integrated product with 1 product backlog. Sprint planning part 1 happens with all teams (or with team representatives). The Sprint Review is for all teams to review the potentially shippable Product Increment together. The focus is on the whole product. An Overall Retrospective does not exist in standard Scrum. Its purpose is to retrospect the previous Sprint (s) from a product perspective cross-team.

LeSS Huge provides a set of rules for a setup with a lot of teams – the ‘tipping point’ is ~ 8 teams, but it rather depends on the feeling and workload of the product owner. Suppose the product owner cannot handle the workload anymore to own his backlog. In that case, LeSS Huge provides an answer by introducing ‘requirements areas’ (a set of customer-centric feature areas) with an additionally responsible product owner per requirement area.

Flip the system

A key takeaway is that top-level management support is required to transform an organisation to become influential in agile product/software development. As such, this is not new, but essentially – in the context of Large Scale Scrum – this implies the ‘go’ or ‘not-go’ decision.

A LeSS consultant talks to the management to discuss the required changes in organisational design and good engineering practices. If the management is not convinced or does not acknowledge the need for such changes, the LeSS adoption would be a ‘no-go’.

An adoption flips the organisational system for one particular product (or product group), not for the whole organisation. When the adoption of this 1 product is successful, you continue to spread to adopt the way of working to other organisation products.


A part of the course addresses the adoption and the preparation involved to adopt LeSS. The path to agility is a path of continuous improvement. There is no perfect time to start agility; rather, ‘initiation’ of the transformation to agility can begin at any time.

There are different views on when to start the first Sprint: you can start right away (knowing you will not be able to produce a potentially shippable product increment at the end of the first Sprint), but you deal with it empirically and transparently during your sprints.

On the other hand, you foresee a preparation period that involves activities to get started:

  1. Educate everyone (including management)
  2. Design cross-functional (feature) teams and create feature team adoption maps
  3. Define the 1 definition of done
  4. Make the product owner, an actual product owner
  5. Keep project managers away from the teams

The preparation includes the setup of any facilities, systems, etc. With good practice, you have a solid basis to produce working software (according to the definition of done) at the end of your 1st Sprint.

The course

The Certified LeSS Practitioner is a three-day course, quite interactive. Craig organises his course by explaining some content, immediately followed by an individual, team exercise or in-class example. We’ve exercised lots of mind mapping to recapitulate what we’ve just learned and an activity on causal-loop modelling. After the course, I’ve created my overall mindmap of the course contents, which I’ll use as a link to explore other topics. Both Ari Tikka and Ahmad Fahmy were present during the course. They have both experiences adopting LeSS (Ari in Nokia Networks and Ahmad in Bank of America Merill Lynch).

Craig takes time to address almost every question, or concern raised or parks it with consideration. He emphasises core Scrum and empirical process control very much (as he should).

Craig breaks the course in unequally time-boxed pauses and spices it up with miscellaneous valuable and useless stuff and quite a few bad Canadian jokes (no further spoilers mentioned here) J

Each participant received a copy of the scaling books + print-out of the slides (the slide deck is about 300 slides). Any particular multi-site or offshore agile development issues are part of the resources but not addressed in the course. Most large organisations have some offshore/nearshore development ongoing (or past this, after lots of misery) – it would have been exciting to get some more explanation or guidelines on this topic.


After completion of the course, you are a Certified LeSS Practioner. The Scrum Alliance also accredits the course as an added qualification on the topic of Scaling Scrum Fundamentals.


The site provides a lot of info on the framework. It’s much recommended to read the material on the site (it contains a lot): minimum minimorum of the LeSS rules, but mostly read the LeSS framework, principles, and structure.

Craig Larman and Bas Vodde are agilists with lots of experience in Scrum and scaling Scrum/Agile. Craig focuses on organisational redesign and systems thinking and serves as a consultant for large-scale Scrum and enterprise agile adoption.

Craig and Bas have authored the following main books on Scaling Lean and Agile development:

2010 – Practices for Scaling Lean and Agile Development – Craig Larman, Bas Vodde

2009 – Scaling Lean and Agile Development – Craig Larman, Bas Vodde

2015 – Large-Scale Scrum: More with LeSS, Craig Larman, Bas Vodde,

This article expresses my view regarding the Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) Practitioner course, given by Craig Larman – March 2015, Brussels. In case of any remarks or questions, don’t hesitate to reply.

My LeSS mindmap

(click for full-size image)

Mind map Large Scale Scrum (LeSS)
Mind map Large Scale Scrum (LeSS)

Scrum Scaled for Large Projects and Organizational Initiatives

“Lately, we have watched with amusement and then growing concerned as the methodologists have rolled mega processes they assert are the silver-bullets to scaling.”

Ken Schwaber

A growing concern, I must concur. I also experience how organisations are struggling and seeking how to scale Scrum. Recently, Gunther presented the issue at #atbru (Agile tour Brussels) in his talk “Empirical management explored”.

My observations:
* Organisations not yet able to decently organise Scrum at the team level should not embark on a journey to scale Scrum beyond that team level.
* If such organisations attempt to scale Scrum, they will scale dysfunctions.
* Organisations still stuck in the classic management paradigm are steer-less to get product creation organised incrementally and iteratively. These organisations mix Scrum with many waterfall practices (predictive long-term project planning, wild guesstimates, lack of transparency). On the way, they end up with a self-defined framework, mixing it all up.

The bottom line is:
* Invest wisely to get organised to transform your teams to Scrum
* Invest wisely to maximise Scrum at a team level, following with multiple teams and following with multiple products > this subsequent growing approach is the sound approach to scale
* Live and breathe the Scrum Stance and agile values
> Invest in people and teams
> Manage and plan based upon real metrics and evidence
> Focus on business value

In Scrum zijn er geen business analisten!

In Scrum zijn er geen business analisten!

Hmm. Toch wel.

In Scrum bestaat de “rol” business analist niet, en  ook geen andere typische IT project rollen zoals functioneel analist, technisch analist, architect, systeembeheerder, project manager, …

Het Scrum framework definieert 3 rollen:

  • Product eigenaar
  • Ontwikkelaars (het team)
  • Scrum master

Het “ontwikkel” team omvat alle individuen met alle vaardigheden en expertises om het product te “ontwikkelen”. In feite kunnen we dit ook het “product” team heten, de term “ontwikkelaar” neigt teveel om enkel (software) ontwikkelaars aan te spreken.

Het team oefent dus alle vaardigheden en expertises uit om tot een succesvolle ontwikkeling van het product te komen. Het team is in principe cross-functioneel en een teamlid hoeft zich niet te beperken tot een bepaalde rol of activiteit. Volgens de nood en planning kan elk teamlid een bepaalde activiteit uitoefenen… analyse, design, ontwikkeling, testing, planning, project administratie, … . We moedigen dit aan in een cross-functioneel team zodat teamleden van elkaar kunnen leren en kennis gedeeld / verrijkt wordt.

“Business analyse” omvat uiteraard meerdere vaardigheden en een analist is actief op vele terreinen: marketing & communicatie, business, functioneel, technisch, … . De business analist heeft typisch vaardigheden om de vertaalslag te maken tussen marketing en technische mensen.

Agile en analyse?

Als “business analist” vervullen we de facto meerdere taken. Een agile analist zou men kunnen omschrijven als:

Een agile analist combineert business, functionele, techische analyse en acceptatie testen. De agile analist streeft naar transparantie in communicatie en het gehele project, werkt in korte iteraties en is continue op zoek naar feedback. De agile analist creëert samen met de product eigenaar en de andere teamleden een visie en bouwt mee aan het product, iteratie na iteratie.

Bron: volledig artikel (

10 redenen waarom een organisatie niet succesvol is in het toepassen van Agile / Scrum

De adoptie van agile principes en een framework (zoals Scrum) in een organisatie is een hele uitdaging.

10 mogelijke redenen waarom een organisatie niet succesvol is in het toepassen van Agile / Scrum:

1. De organisatie begrijpt het probleem niet ten gronde dat men wenst op te lossen met de introductie van Scrum

2. De organisatie heeft onrealistische verwachtingen

3. De organisatie heeft geen strategie of visie

4. Er is geen management ondersteuning

5. De organisatie is niet bereid om effectief te veranderen (cultuur, processen)

6. De teams in de organisatie hebben geen intentie om cross functioneel te werken

7. Er is geen product ownership

8. De organisatie heeft niet voldoende geduld

9. De organisatie is niet bereid om te investeren in training

10. De organisatie denkt dat alle veranderingen door 1 persoon georchestreerd kunnen worden

Thanks to @tirrellpayton