Action your impediments daily for continual improvement

ScrumMaster Assigning Who is Responsible and When it will be resolved to Impediments after the daily standup

ScrumMaster actioning impediments directly after the daily standup.

Here is a very clear blog article by Chris Sterling outlining the rationale behind capturing and assigning actions for impediments at the daily standup. He explains the connection to the continual improvement philosophy of Kaizen. Spot-on, Chris.

We’ve used this technique in teams I’ve worked with, along with longer bi-weekly retrospectives to drum up the individual, team and organizaitonal impediments that stand in the way to high performance. This is a way to radically improve their team performance and mitigate risks early in a project. Whether you don’t have a continuous build system or a team member is out due to an emergency medevac for his pet poodle,  these things all deserve space on the impediments wall. By making the rule that there must be at least one impediment a day, and by assigning impediments to individuals for daily resolution you drive accountability for continual improvement to the members of the Scrum team. It also builds trust with teams for the ScrumMaster, that you are doing your job in clearing roadblocks for the team. I encourage all Scrum teams to capture their impediments at daily standup in this way.

Peter Gibbons and his pals remove an impediment.

Peter Gibbons and his pals 'actioning' an impediment.

This part of your daily standup should feel energizing. You should leave feeling like things are being done, like in some small way, things are better. It should not feel like a catalogue of all the ways your team and organization suck. You may recall the office space scene where they take the life-sucking fax machine to the field and beat it to bits. It should feel like that. Like you are liberated and empowered to remove these obstacles today. (Note, I don’t condone violence to ‘human impediments’, they must be resolved in a different way.)

A way to consider this is to focus on the next action needed to resolve your impediment.  List the next physical verb step on your impediments wall that you need to do in order to eliminate your impediment. Do you need to go to Boeing Surplus to buy cheap hardware? Do you need to get an appointment with the CEO to lift the travel restriction so your test team can have face time with your dev team?

Pay close attention that you are avoiding all yak shaving activities. It’s better to do something OK today than do something perfectly tomorrow. This applies to impediment removal also.

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