Friday, July 26, 2013

Do we need an Impediment List? Why "yes"

Yes, we need a public impediment list. Every Team does.


One argument against is that all impediments should be eliminated immediately.  Yes, if this were possible, this should be done.  But I think that thinking assumes an incorrect view of what impediments are.

Yes, it is true that some obvious impediments only appear from time to time. If if you only get small ones that appear at most once a day, then ‘fix it immediately’ is the right answer.  And you need no list.

But I think we should have a totally different attitude toward impediments.

As with Lean, we should give ourselves the ‘perfection’ challenge.  That is, we do not indulge in the fantasy that we will ever become perfect, but we challenge ourselves to strive toward perfection.  Or, more concretely, to become the best Scrum Team ever.

So, an impediment is anything that can be improved that might lead us to becoming the ‘perfect’ (best) Scrum Team.

And, of course, nothing around us, and nothing that we do, is perfect. So, everything needs to be improved.  Even Michael Phelps can swim a better race.

So, then the public impediment list really should be just the top 20 things we should fix. (If we listed everything, we might have 900 items, but in this work, it helps not at all to have a list of 900.  Just the top 20 will do for now, and that short list will be helpful.)

Impediments can be anything — anything — that is keeping the team from being perfect. Missing fun, blockers of stories, people issues, slow CI, managerial interruptions, task-switching, poor organizational incentives, bad user stories, weak PO, waterfall culture, Scrum not fully implemented in the organization, lack of urgency for change, bad corporate culture, a culture that requires hiding any ‘failure’, etc, etc, etc.  Anything. Of any type.

Also, many impediments are quite difficult to fix.  Might take time.

Also, in my experience, many quite obvious impediments are begging to be put on the list, and people pretend that the ‘rock’ is not there.  In part, because no one gave them the notion to start a list.

Lastly… Some complain, rightly in some cases, that an impediment list implies inaction on the impediments.  But of course, the purpose of the list is NOT to stop action on fixing or ameliorating them.  In fact, the list is supposed to help us attack them.

So, have a list. Attack them. Aggressively.

No comments: