Designing the LeSS Conference
3 december 2016
The first ever LeSS conference was held in Amsterdam on August 30 and 31. An amazing 186 participants from Australia, Japan, the USA, Finland, Singapore, Switzerland and many more joined us for 2 days of sharing, learning and self-management.
We, the organisers, did not want it to be a commercial conference, in the sense that there would be booths and sponsors influencing the speaker list and so on. We wanted it to be about practitioners sharing real world insights about LeSS adoption. And about letting the world know that there is a way to Scale Scrum and keep its values. We also wanted people to experience LeSS in person.
For the practitioners, we introduced an Experience track with all kinds of case studies on LeSS and LeSS huge adoptions.
For experiencing LeSS in person, we introduced an experiments track. We did 3 main experiments.
- Having a team based conference;
- Having a Open Space parallel to all other sessions;
- Forming into communities.
Furthermore, we did not plan for breaks, only for lunch; did not have a program printed; and we did not have a single person who was in charge. I remember that the people of the venue were searching for the one person to make all decisions, but this person was not there. We all made decisions and leadership emerged.
It was fun for us, confusing for some and insightful for all.
Different kind of conference
So, the LeSS conference was a little bit different to a ‘traditional conference
|Traditional conferences||LeSS conference|
|Program printed and stable||Program only online and changing.|
|Drinks, beer and wine costs extra||Drinks, beer and wine included.|
|Price over Euro 1000||Price Euro 250|
|Organisers guess what people need and create appropriate program with tracks and timelines.||People need to decide for themselves and decide what works for them|
|People work as individuals||People work in teams|
|Mainly consultants doing talks||Mainly practitioner doing talks|
|There is 1 person in the lead||Organisers use situational leadership|
|You expect to be entertained and sit back||You are encouraged to actively participate and take ownership of your learning.|
|Make money||Needed to add money out of pocket 🙁|
|1 t-shirt||3 t-shirts|
Team experiment results
The teams-based conference experiment is considered a success. We now know that we are going to repeat this at the next LeSS conference in London 2017. A lot of people told me that they really enjoyed working with the team; getting to know people and socialising was good, and especially the discussions after the sessions.
“…people in my team went to the same talk but had very different views on what was said…the discussions we had gave some great insights…”
Of-course not everybody enjoyed the team experiment, but then again you cannot please everybody all the time 🙂
Community experiment results
The community experiment is considered a success also. We now know that we are not repeating that one :). But I am actually happy with the results. A number of new LeSS communities started in Berlin, The Netherlands and also online using Slack and our LinkedIn group is growing rapidly. @Viktor is having a busy time accepting all the requests.
We are already planning for the next LeSS conference in 2017; it will be in London. We are also already thinking about new experiments to do. So, if you have suggestions the coming year, please share them with us.
Oh, yes, we do not want to loose any money next year and will aim for break even.
Hope to see you in London next year.
Cesario works on large scale Agile transformations worldwide. Cesario is the author of the books Emergent and Scrum Patterns. He is also a Certified LeSS Trainer, a Professional Scrum Trainer™ and a certified coach.