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Impediment List is of Tremendous Importance

Impediment List is of Tremendous Importance

2017 11 01 head

An impediment is any aspect hindering the team or a company to deliver value and higher quality to the customers. An agile organization continuously removes impediments, it is one of her major activities. This activity is ongoing and can never be completed.

Impediments resolution is Kaizen 改善, a key technique to lean, agile and Scrum approaches. The translation is change for better. Often agile organizations forget to aggressively identify and resolve impediments. We provide hints to improve your Kaizen process.

Identify Impediments

The first step is to identify and classify your impediments. There are always impediments; solving them will increase effectivity of your department. You shall

  • Make impediments visible. Publish them on the Scrum board for all to be seen. Use diagrams and colors. Do not hide them in an issue tracker or a spreadsheet,
  • Raise issues early and often. The daily stand-up meeting is an ideal platform. Ask each day if impediments jeopardize the sprint goal,
  • Feelings matter. Let everybody identify impediments. An impediment is a dysfunction of the organization, never a flaw in an individual,
  • Aim for effectivity and quality. Efficiency is less important,
  • Find out the root causes, discuss the 5 Whys over the how,
  • Provide safe to fail environment. Use the Plan-Do-Check-Adapt loop to implement your experiments to improve,
  • Life the Scrum values. Lead by example: Focus, Commitment, Transparency, Openness, Respect, and Courage.

Solve Impediments

The real work of the agile coach is eliminating impediments. The goal of resolving impediments is often higher internal quality - internal quality is the sole responsibility of the Scrum Team -. Work on improving external quality - a delighted customer will order more -, and improved effectivity.

Start with short-term wins to prove the organization that it is worth the effort.

Allocate time and resources in each sprint to resolve a few high prioritized impediments. Please define measurements Key Performance Indicators KPI. Find out if the solution solves the root cause of the problem.

All team members are responsible to solve team impediments. The Scrum master is responsible to coach the team and help solve overall impediments rooted in the organization.

Track Impediments

The identification step is the easy one, do not forget to track impediments and their resolution. You have a serious problem

  • If the impediment backlog lives in the mysterious black book of the Scrum master,
  • If your impediment backlog does not change,
  • If your impediment backlog is empty,
  • If you have an impediment backlog with a growing number of active impediments,
  • If the Scrum master resolves all impediments himself,
  • If you do not solve at least one impediment each sprint - it is now a mandatory part in the Scrum Guide 2018 version -.

As a Scrum coach, Scrum master or Scrum team member you should reflect upon the above statements at least monthly. Otherwise you are just pretending. Remember

Doing Agile instead of being Agile is just Cargo Cult.