Planning as a social event – scaling agile at LEGO

The past couple of years I’ve been travelling back and forth to LEGO’s HQ in Billund Denmark, helping out with their agile journey. Super interesting! Learned more than we could ever fit in an article, but here’s an attempt to capture at least some of it, written together with LEGO colleague and co-instigator Eik Thyrsted Brandsgård. Enjoy!

Planning as a social event – scaling agile @ LEGO

Agile @ Lego



18 responses on “Planning as a social event – scaling agile at LEGO

  1. Fantastic summary, Henrik!

    I read the whole piece in one go and truly enjoyed the content, plus the relaxing-but-on-point interview/journalism style it was written in. Thanks a lot to you, Erik and LEGO for sharing and inventing awesome methodology. I can truly recommend the content to organizations finding themselves in similar challenges with scaling agile across multiple teams and projects.

  2. If you remove all the waste from SAFe you wind up with Scrum. Using less than 20% of SAFe sounds about right, particularly when what you use is generally done in Scrum implementations that know nothing about SAFe.

    1. Jeff – what a meaningless and disrespectful comment.
      Making this good share by Henrik and Eik into a rant about how bad SAFe is in comparison to Scrum…

      1. I am sure this isn’t really Jeff Sutherland, it’s probably somebody who has other motives. I can’t find this quote anywhere online by Jeff and I find it hard to believe he would post something so imbecilic.

    2. Anders,
      I [respectfully] disagree. I don’t find Jeff’s comment to be a rant or disrespectful. To me it simply said “there’s a lot of waste in there, and when you remove most of it, as perhaps Lego did, you end up with little more than Scrum itself”. It’s a fair point. I don’t think his comment addresses the gap – i.e. they were already practicing Scrum but were suffering from inter-team alignment issues that Scrum didn’t seem to address. But so what? Given a more hospitable reaction to his initial comment perhaps we would have heard a follow up from the creator of Scrum, and maybe his thoughts on addressing those gaps. After all, telling a person that their comments are “meaningless and disrespectful”, especially when that assertion is debatable, lacks… well… meaning and respect. I prefer to debate ideas; not question the motives of the people in the discussion. I suspect that you do too. I’d like to see us get back to that.

      For what it’s worth, I too find SAFe to have a great deal of waste and even some things that contradict lean thinking, but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing of value in there. And I must say I really enjoyed Henrik’s and Erik’s write up. Their account offers insight, guidance and value to all of us. Well done gents.

  3. Great article Henrik and Eik. Sharing (again) your experience with true transparency honesty really helps others and keep pushing the change, so SW development becomes more about people collaboration and less about top-down plans and processes.

  4. Thank you Jeff,
    if I interpret your comment most positive.
    I would say yes, it is in addition to Scrum a PDCA Cycle on a higher level, plus taking into account maximum of transparency and communication as the agile manifesto mentioned.
    Thank you Jeff, for your comment, and thank you Henrik again for this successful, pragmatic way of being Agile in
    scaled not only Software context.

  5. Thanks Henrik and Eik for sharing your journey on how you do PI planning at Lego! As always it’s nice to read about your experiences from the “trenches”.

  6. Curious, who writes features and about Pre PI Planning workflow. How long it takes, who gets involved and does what, writes features, etc.

  7. Thanks a lot for a very inspiring writing. Forced me to raise my head above daily struggling and I will for sure try to share this inspiration with my colleagues into my own organization.

  8. Thanks Eik and Henrik
    for sharing your experiences.

    I’m interested in your experiences with the framework, beyond planning.

    I joint many ‘large’ plannings, based on SAFe and other good practices like market places.
    Speaking frankly, I definitely understand, why Jeff put his 2 cents on your post.
    I was involved in in a SAFe implementation at a US agriculture company which is still mentioned as a success at Dean’s webpage. Because of this fact, and also because I learnt a lot and appreciate your experiences, and last but not least, because this topic is highly controversial discussed in the community.

    For Scrum’s sake, I’d really appreciate to get this pink elefant out of the room, before the big consultant companies destroy one more company (and many more f*** great developers)



  9. Hi,

    please delete this post and the one which is in moderation.
    Honestly, I was drunk while writing yesterday evening :-/

    Nonetheless, I’d really love more input from you about SAFe. It’s still an open issue in the community and imho an unhealthy situation.
    Would be great, if you could force an open disussion about it.



  10. Thanks lads, this is an excellent paper on big room planning. We have adhering to SAFe practises also and this sure helps give additional context around the planning event and what is possible by a similar sized group.

    A request though – would you have a link to the template you use for your team boards? Looks like an A3 printout. I really like the look of that and would love to use it with our teams.

  11. Henrik,

    An excellent piece – agile at scale is the holy grail. You make it sound quite easy! Building the motivation to change from central planning would seem to be key.


  12. Hi All
    We have used “Sitecore SAFe” for +5 years, but not in a dogmatic way!
    Even before SAFe split into Full SAFe, Essential SAFe etc., we realized that it is a huge framework. So we defined a “Staged approach”, picking the pieces found useful.
    That proved very helpful for us. We see much more coordination between teams, higher awareness about dependencies and the consequences of breaking changes to downstream teams & an increase in trust/collaboration. E.g. Product Management is more coordinated, and don’t “push work” as much as they did before.
    We have reached a stage where we deliver 92% of the business value that was planned during PI planning – however we deliver 107% business value by the end of the PI (I know this is a subjective measure, but this is what our numbers say).
    We have always done on-line PI-plannings, as we are distributed around the globe, so Covid has not reduced our productivity, although we all miss meeting with our colleagues more often.
    SAFe it not perfect, but for us, it has worked pretty well.

    Jan Sørensen
    Agile Coach, Sitecore, Copenhagen

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