Do we need an Impediment List? Why “yes”

This content is syndicated from LeanAgileTraining by Joe Little. To view the original post in full, click here.

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.

Leave a Reply

What is 7 + 4 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
Please do this simple sum so I know you are human:)

There are 101 ways to approach anything.
To find the best way, sometimes you need expert help

What People Say

“Kelly revolutionised the way our digital department operated. A true advocate of agile principles, he quickly improved internal communication within our teams and our internal clients by aligning our business and creating a much enhanced sense of transparency in the decisions the business was making. Kelly also introduced a higher sense of empowerment to the development teams...”


“Kelly’s a leading program director with the ability to take charge from day one and keep strong momentum at both a program and project level driving prioritisation, resourcing and budgeting agendas. Kelly operates with an easy-going style and possesses a strong facilitation skill set. From my 5 months experience working with Kelly, I would recommend Kelly to program manage large scale, complex, cross company change programs both from a business and IT perspective.”


“Kelly is an extremely talented and visionary leader. As such he manages to inspire all around him to achieve their best. He is passionate about agile and has a wealth of experience to bring to bear in this area. If you're 'lucky' he might even tell you all about his agile blog. Above all this, Kelly is great fun to work with. He is always relaxed and never gets stressed - and trust me, he had plenty of opportunity here! If you get the chance to work with Kelly, don't pass it up.”


“Kelly is an Agile heavy-weight. He came in to assess my multi-million $ Agile development program which wasn’t delivering the right throughput. He interviewed most of the team and made some key recommendations that, when implemented, showed immediate results. I couldn’t ask for more than that except he’s a really nice guy as well.”


“Kelly and I worked together on a very large project trying to secure a new Insurer client. Kelly had fantastic commercial awareness as well as his technical expertise. Without him I would never had secured this client so I owe a lot to him. He is also a really great guy!”


“Kelly came to the department and has really made a huge impact on how the department communicates, collaborates and generally gets things done. We were already developing in an agile way, but Kelly has brought us even more into alignment with agile and scrum best practices, being eager to share information and willing to work with us to change our processes rather than dictate how things must be done. He is highly knowledgable about agile development (as his active blog proves) but his blog won't show what a friendly and knowledgeable guy he is. I highly recommend Kelly to anyone looking for a CTO or a seminar on agile/scrum practices - you won't be disappointed!”


“Kelly was a great colleague to work with - highly competent, trustworthy and generally a nice bloke.”


“Kelly was engaged as a Program Director on a complex business and technology transformation program for Suncorp Commercial Insurance. Kelly drew on his key capabilities and depth of experience to bring together disparate parties in a harmonised way, ensuring the initiate and concept phases of the program were understood and well formulated. Excellent outcome in a very short time frame. ”


“I worked with Kelly on many projects at IPC and I was always impressed with his approach to all of them, always ensuring the most commercially viable route was taken. He is great at managing relationships and it was always a pleasure working with him.”


“I worked with Kelly whilst at Thoughtworks and found him to be a most inspiring individual, his common-sense approach coupled with a deep understanding of Agile and business makes him an invaluable asset to any organisation. I can't recommend Kelly enough.”


“Kelly was a brilliant CTO and a great support to me in the time we worked together. I owe Kelly a great deal in terms of direction and how to get things done under sometimes difficult circumstances. Thanks Kelly.”