LeSS Course Review by a Student
3 days of learning Large Scale Scrum with Ahmad Fahmy
The Certified LeSS Practitioner (CLP) course – promotes itself as a course that will teach you how to scale scrum following its clear set of principles and rules.
So why do we need to learn how to scale Scrum?
An important question. Scrum is an excellent framework when used for one product within one team. Surely scrum should just work, right? But the basic core concepts start to break down as you scale scrum through the organisation. Resulting in disillusioned teams, failing products and a lot of unhappy people.
Learning how to scale Scrum isn’t a new phenomenon either. The community has actively been exploring and sharing new ideas for many years. As a result, there are many frameworks out there, each suited to an organisation’s context.
Where does LeSS fit in?
LeSS has been a work in progress for 10 years. Following its formal launch in 2008, the LeSS CLP courses were released last year. The aim of the course is to teach you how to scale Scrum using the LeSS principles and practices. I was fortunate to attend a CLP class last week.
The importance of an experienced trainer
Our trainer was Ahmad Fahmy, a guy with a staggering amount of experience, energy and enthusiasm to boot.
Ahmad’s career began as a web developer at the age of 18. Following a career spanning many large financial institutions including Bank of America Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan and ION Trading, he joined the LeSS company in 2010 after meeting Craig Larman, who was a consultant for a large scale LeSS adoption at the company Ahmad was working for at the time.
It was an absolute privilege to attend a class facilitated by someone with such a depth and breadth of real-world experience. During which we went on an incredible learning journey. We re-learnt Scrum. We learnt why LeSS is Scrum at Scale. How to fend off nerves before public speaking [Mind hack #1]. The art of Lean Management. Why the ScrumMaster at scale needs to have strong socio-political influence. Why scaling needs to come from both the top and the bottom. And much more.
In fact, I learnt how to learn! Never before have I retained so much knowledge and understanding following a course.
LeSS hits the sweet spot between rules and principles. From the outset, it seems quite straightforward – and it is – but it’s hard, hard work. The course content is very honest about this.
In fact, Ahmad frequently told us - what he tells clients that are embarking on a LeSS adoption. DON’T DO IT.
The LeSS principles and rules need organisations to rethink the values they are built upon. In doing so - they can restructure their teams, create “helicopter leaders” and give their employees purpose. Without which, a LeSS transformation will fail.
This is incredibly challenging and forces many organisations to change at a structural level.
Our class was a mix of consultants, coaches, ScrumMasters and developers from financial institutions, startups and governmental organisations. For most - the realisation that their organisational structure would have to change, sank in on the 3rd day.
Essentially - the CLP is a course not just about SCRUM at scale, but organisational design. The importance of looking at “the whole” of everything and anything. By looking from the outside, in and connecting the dots. Anyone with an interest in product development from an organisational structural level, e.g management, consultants should attend this course. Your eyes will be opened to a revolutionary way to organise your businesses.
At a fundamental level we learnt “how” and “why” it’s important to be committed to the LeSS principles to make scrum at scale successful.
These principles include:
empirical process control
see the principles here. https://less.works/less/principles/index.html
Because of Ahmad’s experience we learned how transformations are successful and how they can go bad via his many war stories. Crucially, I learnt that at the crux of it - LeSS is rooted in the principles of the agile manifesto. And it’s when people forget/disregard these principles - that the problems start.