Readings Preparing for First Call

Scaling lean and agile dev - cover.jpg

There's better-than-even odds that if you're reading this, you think you want to learn an approach to scale agile development.

Surprisingly, LeSS (Large-Scale Scrum) is not about scaling. It's about descaling and simplification of the limiting organizational structures so that many teams can work together on one product as simply as possible to towards the system optimizing goals of (1) highest value from global perspective and (2) agility to change cheaply based on learning.

But there's a change problem that you the reader are part of... If I had to boil down about 40 years of this work to one key idea, it is:

You must own, not rent, your change and organizational design.

And to own it, senior managers that have the authority to change the organizational design (eliminating groups, roles, sites, policies, etc.) have to do learning and change. LeSS is not about superficial techniques that don't impact the structure.

What learning? To start, the following pre-readings before our first call.

Who's Asking?

I'm Craig Larman, the creator (along with my friend and colleague Bas Vodde) of LeSS (Large-Scale Scrum), the author of three books on scaling lean thinking & agile development, and have focused for decades helping organizations succeed with scaling (or more precisely, descaling) with LeSS.

Why Learning Before the First Call?

Before I start any discussion with a senior management team that is interested in introducing LeSS and becoming a Learning Organization, these are the pre-readings I ask to study before we start. Why?

  • The Learning Organization and Lean Thinking approach means lots of learning and teaching by the senior management. And it's learning about the subjects covered in these first readings. If you — and all the senior and C-level managers — don't like intensively reading and learning for the next one to two years about these subjects, it's (let's say) 90% unlikely the change will succeed.
  • The content of the pre-readings is the context for the first call, because I'll be asking you questions that depend on knowing the pre-reading content.
  • Senior managers in a "lean" management culture — one of the foundations of LeSS is Lean Thinking — focus on manage by means rather than manage by results/objectives; this is a radical shift for many traditional senior managers, and "manage by means" starts with a focus on learning more about the means side of LeSS.
  • It's the first step in owning rather than renting your change and organizational design.

Adoption Process

Briefly, I'll probably be recommending these steps if you want to go deeper:

1. A 2.5-day or 3-day "Informed Consent" workshop with senior management and me, where I will help the group learn more by using Systems Thinking, with a focus on why, and answer all your questions about the implications and next steps in a LeSS adoption.

2. A period of reflection and more learning by the senior management and hands-on developers, rather than a rush to decision.

3. If "go", preparation for defining the first product group to change to LeSS.


1. Harvard Business Review: Six Myths of Product Development

2. The following chapters from our first LeSS book Scaling Lean & Agile Development: Thinking and Organizational Tools with LeSS:

Chapter 2: Systems Thinking (or the equivalent Systems Thinking chapter at
Chapter 7: Feature Teams (or the equivalent Feature Teams chapter at

3. The following chapters from our third LeSS book Large-Scale Scrum: More with LeSS:

Chapter 2: LeSS, or the equivalent chapter online
Chapter 3: Adoption
Chapter 4: Organize by Customer Value
Chapter 7: Product