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Impediments. Those nasty things that stop you from getting stuff done. Nope – that’s wrong. Impediments don’t just stop you from getting stuff done.

Impediments are ANYTHING that prevent you from going as fast as possible.

Think about that carefully for a moment.

The question “Do you have any impediments?” during a daily scrum or standup rarely solicit any answers. Usually only blockers (things preventing work) get mentioned. The trick here is to listen to people’s language in the daily scrum. Any hint of uncertainty means there is potentially an impediment that can be resolved.

We have created a list of “impediment words”. Listen for these words in your next daily scrum and see how many potential impediments you can spot. Ask clarifying questions to uncover whether it is a problem, or if someone is just using uncertain language out of habit. Start to notice how often you use uncertain language.

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Not every impediment needs solving right now. The big hairy ones will most likely take months or even years to fully solve. Your aim is to make them less painful for your team. Chip away at them one small step at a time. The best way we have found to do this, is to source multiple ideas of first steps from the team. Many heads thinking of potential solutions is always better. Also seek help from outside the team. Perhaps other teams have already faced and conquered this particular impediment. Keep track of the impediment on your team board so that everyone acknowledges it’s a problem and everyone keeps it top of mind. The problem solving tree is a great technique to help identify potential solutions for impediments.

 

Impediments is one of the sections of our new online course on Front Row Agile: Advanced ScrumMaster: Getting your team to great.

 

 

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