From MeSS to LeSS |The LeSS Pattern Card Game

6 oktober 2020

This is a description of the workshop I did at the LeSS Conference in Amsterdam.

You can use this workshop to have a thorough discussion about your new LeSS group or to repair an existing LeSS adoption.

For a general workshop, you can use the starting situation I wrote about in my Copy Paste Scaling articles that you can find here and another one there. I now call it the MeSS, then your goal is to go from MeSS to LeSS.

In the context of your organization, you start with your current situation.

Step 1

In this step, you generate a list of problems that you want to address.

The question to answer is, What should be removed from the MeSS ( or from your current situation ) to get to LeSS?

  • With your group generate a list of problems that you would need to address in your LeSS organization. You can use liberating structures if you have many people in the room.
  • Write each problem or improvement on a Post-Its. I like to ask people to write it in the form: “How do you …”
  • Use affinity mapping to remove duplicates and create a common understanding of the problems.

Step 2

In this step, you are going to discover which LeSS Pattern cards, if any, could be helpful.

Place the LeSS Cards front down on the table.

  • Choose a problem to work on.
  • Each person picks 4 LeSS cards from the deck.
  • Each player selects a card(s) from his hand, if any, that describes the problem and plays that card on the table.
  • The group then discusses the potential LeSS Patterns that could be useful in addressing that specific problem.
  • When agreed, place the pattern cards under the matching problem. If you have multiple cards that solve the problem place the cards in a sequence.
  • Each person refills their hand to 4 cards. If the new cards solve the current problem, you place the card, discuss and refill your hand again.
  • Then repeat with the next problem.

Step 3

In this third and last step, you discuss the sequences that you created and decide which pattern you want to apply.

A sequence is your best guess on how to improve the organization at the moment in time. When you adopt a pattern, you will learn if it works or not. If it works, you keep it; if not, you backtrack and try another. The basic process is as follows:

  1. Choose the pattern that will most strengthen your LeSS group.
  2. Apply the pattern.
  3. Assess if it indeed solves your problem at the end of the Sprint, then recognize your new context and choose the next pattern that you want to try.
  4. If not, undo the pattern and try another at Step 2 instead.

Keep an experimental mindset, be ready to learn and adjust, and understand that there is no “best” sequence. A sequence shows a path, but the teams have to do the walking and discover how to implement it.

The LeSS Pattern Cards

I created the LeSS Pattern cards for free use by the LeSS community. Just drop me an email if you want to obtain a deck. I will send you a printed deck.