Why LeSS in a Scale-Up?

24 Oct 2023  James  2 mins read.

Why LeSS in a Scale-Up?

Your technology start-up business is growing, you think adding resources will help you deliver, but how do you scale up your organization without losing the best parts of the lean and adaptable organization you have?

People often ask why executive management of a product development organization on the verge of rapidly growing their engineering footprint should consider Large-Scale Scrum. Some of the most compelling reasons include:

  • Retain the ability to turn on a dime for a dime
  • Continue to be able to achieve the company mission far into the future
  • Continue to grow a culture of technical excellence
  • Remain a fun place to work

In other words, you probably want to avoid becoming yet another sluggish mind-numbing organization like those whose business model you are disrupting.

In a small start-up with only a few engineers, the culture and observed value system of the founders drives the structure. In large organizations, the situation is reversed.

The LeSS community, trainers, training, and written content are focused on creating a deep understanding of how various organizational design choices influence each other, and how these choices affect adaptability and value delivery. Even if one decides against LeSS, the framework agnostic insights gained will greatly benefit your understanding of how to best grow a product development organization.

As an example, a system modeling based Certified LeSS Practitioner course is as much of a course on organizational design as it is a course on LeSS. In some ways, LeSS is simply a reference implementation model used to ground the abstract concepts in real-world actionablity.

In case you are thinking LeSS is just another framework rather than an organizational re-design, consider these facts:

  • Managers are optional in LeSS. If they exist they are focused on improving the organization, not managing the work.
  • There are no analysts, specification writers, UI/UX designers, or architects outside of the teams in LeSS.
  • LeSS is the result of two decades of Go See, systems thinking, and experimenting to achieve organizational adaptiveness.

People in the LeSS community have been thinking about and experimenting for a very long time in an effort to achieve organizational adaptability. Every LeSS trainer has hands-on experience coaching at least one large organization in a LeSS-like adoption.

If you want to ensure your scale-up remains adaptable over time, I strongly suggest spending some time learning about LeSS to arrive at your own conclusions. Perhaps your system optimization goal will be different. Perhaps your system optimization goal will be aligned, but you happen to come to a different set of conclusions.

Regardless of your conclusions, the thinking tools you gain by studying LeSS will put you in a much better position to make more fully informed decisions about how to best design a product development organization which produces the sorts of outcomes you are hoping for.

James Carpenter
James Carpenter

James is an expert in helping companies create effective engineering team structures and cultures.