Product Management Dictionary

The Product Management Dictionary: LeSS

If you're a product manager looking to expand your knowledge, this article on LeSS in our Product Management Dictionary is a must-read.

If you're involved with product management or development, then you've likely heard of the LeSS framework. LeSS, or Large-Scale Scrum, is a scaling approach designed to help organizations scale up their Agile practices for projects and teams that face greater complexity and challenge. In this article, we'll provide an overview of the LeSS framework, its key principles, and how it can benefit your organization.

Understanding LeSS Framework

Before diving into the specifics of LeSS, it's important to understand its origins. LeSS was created by Craig Larman and Bas Vodde, two Agile experts who saw a need for a framework that could scale Agile practices for larger teams and organizations. The framework is built upon the foundations of traditional Scrum, but features additional role, artifact, and event additions to accommodate the larger scale.

Origins of LeSS

The LeSS framework can trace its roots back to the early 2000s when its creators began experimenting with scaling Agile principles to meet the needs of larger teams and projects. Craig and Bas were working with companies that had multiple teams working on the same product, and they realized that traditional Scrum wasn't enough to handle the complexity of these projects. They started experimenting with different approaches and eventually developed the LeSS framework.

One of the key challenges they faced was how to maintain the core principles of Agile while scaling it for larger teams. They wanted to ensure that teams could still be nimble and respond quickly to changes in requirements, while also maintaining a high level of quality.

Over time, these experiments evolved into a larger framework that became the basis for LeSS today. The first public release of the LeSS framework was in 2005. Since then, it has been adopted by many organizations around the world, including Ericsson, JP Morgan, and Nokia.

LeSS vs. Traditional Scrum

While LeSS shares many of the same features as traditional Scrum, there are several key differences to note. For example, in LeSS, there is typically a single product backlog for all teams to work from, as opposed to each team having their own backlog. This helps ensure that everyone is working towards the same goal and reduces the risk of duplication of effort.

Additionally, LeSS encourages greater collaboration between teams through shared events and artifacts. For example, there is a "Sprint Review of Reviews" event where teams come together to review each other's work and provide feedback. This helps ensure that everyone is aligned and working towards the same goals.

Key Principles of LeSS

LeSS is built upon several key principles, including:

  1. Empirical process control: LeSS emphasizes the importance of using data to inform decision-making. Teams should be constantly measuring and evaluating their performance and using that information to make improvements.
  2. Continuous improvement: Teams should always be looking for ways to improve their processes and practices. This includes regularly reflecting on their work and making adjustments as needed.
  3. Transparency: LeSS encourages teams to be open and transparent about their work. This includes sharing information about progress, challenges, and successes.
  4. Self-managing teams: Teams are given a high degree of autonomy and are responsible for managing their own work. This helps ensure that they are able to respond quickly to changes and make decisions that are best for the project.
  5. Customer focus: Teams should always be focused on delivering value to the customer. This means understanding their needs and priorities and working to deliver solutions that meet those needs.
  6. Technical excellence: LeSS emphasizes the importance of high-quality code and technical practices. Teams should be constantly working to improve their technical skills and ensure that their code is maintainable and scalable.
  7. Lean thinking: Teams should strive to eliminate waste and focus on delivering value as efficiently as possible. This includes minimizing handoffs between teams and reducing the amount of time spent on non-value-added activities.

These principles inform all aspects of the LeSS framework and guide teams in their Agile practices. By following these principles, teams can work more effectively together and deliver high-quality solutions that meet the needs of their customers.

Implementing LeSS in Your Organization

Adopting the Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS) framework can be a significant undertaking for any organization. However, the benefits of this approach can be substantial, including increased collaboration, more effective communication, and improved efficiency. In this guide, we'll explore the key steps involved in implementing LeSS in your organization.

Preparing for LeSS Adoption

Before diving into the LeSS framework, it's essential to ensure that your organization is adequately prepared for the changes that will come with it. This can involve identifying key stakeholders, defining your goals and objectives, and assessing your current Agile practices. Taking the time to prepare for LeSS adoption can help ensure a smoother transition and increase the likelihood of success.

One critical aspect of preparing for LeSS adoption is assessing your organization's current level of Agile maturity. This can involve conducting a thorough review of your current Agile practices and identifying areas for improvement. By understanding your organization's strengths and weaknesses, you can develop a more effective implementation plan that addresses your specific needs.

Roles and Responsibilities in LeSS

LeSS features several key roles that are essential for successful implementation. These roles include:

  • Product Owner: The Product Owner is responsible for defining and prioritizing the product backlog, ensuring that the team is working on the most valuable features.
  • Scrum Master: The Scrum Master is responsible for facilitating the Scrum process, ensuring that the team is following the framework and removing any impediments to progress.
  • Development Team: The Development Team is responsible for delivering a potentially shippable product increment at the end of each Sprint.
  • Area Product Owner (in LeSS Huge): The Area Product Owner is responsible for coordinating the work of multiple Product Owners within a specific area of the product.
  • Product Owner Assistants (in LeSS Huge): Product Owner Assistants support the Product Owner in managing the product backlog and communicating with stakeholders.

Each of these roles has specific duties and responsibilities that are crucial for ensuring effective collaboration and communication. By clearly defining these roles and responsibilities, you can help ensure that everyone is working towards a common goal and that there is no confusion about who is responsible for what.

LeSS Artifacts and Events

LeSS features several key artifacts and events designed to facilitate communication and collaboration between teams. These include:

  • Product Backlog: The Product Backlog is a prioritized list of features that the team will work on during the project.
  • Sprint Backlog: The Sprint Backlog is a list of items from the Product Backlog that the team plans to complete during the current Sprint.
  • Sprint Planning: Sprint Planning is a collaborative event where the team plans the work that will be completed during the upcoming Sprint.
  • Daily Scrum: The Daily Scrum is a short, daily meeting where the team discusses progress, plans for the day, and any impediments to progress.
  • Sprint Review: The Sprint Review is a collaborative event where the team demonstrates the work completed during the Sprint and receives feedback from stakeholders.
  • Sprint Retrospective: The Sprint Retrospective is a collaborative event where the team reflects on the previous Sprint and identifies areas for improvement.

These events and artifacts provide teams with a framework for effective communication and coordination, ensuring that all teams are aligned towards a common goal. By using these tools effectively, you can help ensure that your LeSS implementation is successful and that your organization can reap the benefits of this powerful Agile framework.

LeSS Framework Variants

LeSS (Large-Scale Scrum) is a framework for scaling agile development to multiple teams working on the same product. There are several variants of the LeSS framework designed to accommodate a variety of project types and sizes. Let's explore a few of these variants.

LeSS Huge

LeSS Huge is designed for extremely large-scale projects with more than eight teams working on the same product. It features several additional roles and artifacts to facilitate effective communication and coordination. The additional roles include area product owners, area scrum masters, and a chief product owner. The additional artifacts include a product group backlog and a coordination backlog. LeSS Huge also has a set of principles that guide its implementation, such as "whole product focus" and "customer-centric definition of done."

One of the key challenges in large-scale projects is maintaining alignment and coherence across multiple teams. LeSS Huge addresses this challenge by providing a clear structure for communication and coordination, as well as a set of guiding principles that help teams stay focused on the big picture.

LeSS for Small-Scale Projects

For smaller projects and teams, a simplified version of LeSS known as LeSS Basic may be more appropriate. This variant still features many of the same core principles and practices as traditional LeSS but in a simplified format. LeSS Basic is designed for one to eight teams working on the same product.

Some of the key practices in LeSS Basic include having a single product backlog, a single definition of done, and a single product owner. Teams in LeSS Basic also work in a synchronized cadence, with a shared sprint goal and a common sprint review and retrospective.

LeSS Basic provides a lightweight framework for scaling agile development to smaller projects and teams. By simplifying the structure and practices of traditional LeSS, LeSS Basic makes it easier for teams to adopt and implement agile practices.

Whether you are working on a large-scale project with multiple teams or a smaller project with just a few teams, there is a LeSS variant that can help you scale agile development and achieve your goals.

Benefits of Adopting LeSS

Adopting the LeSS framework can have several benefits for your organization, including:

Improved Collaboration and Communication

LeSS is designed specifically to facilitate greater collaboration and communication between teams. This can help to reduce silos and create greater alignment toward a common goal, leading to more efficient and effective project delivery.

Faster Time-to-Market

By streamlining your Agile practices, the LeSS framework can help to shorten your time-to-market, allowing you to deliver value to your customers faster. This can give you a significant advantage over your competitors and improve your overall market position.

Enhanced Flexibility and Adaptability

LeSS is designed to be highly adaptable to a variety of project types and sizes, allowing you to easily scale your Agile practices as your organization grows and evolves over time. This can help to future-proof your organization and ensure long-term success.


Overall, the LeSS framework is an effective way to scale Agile practices for larger teams and projects. By focusing on key principles such as collaboration, transparency, and self-management, LeSS can help to improve communication, shorten time-to-market, and enhance overall project delivery. Whether you're just starting out with Agile or looking to take your practices to the next level, LeSS is an excellent framework to consider.