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2 Reasons Why Your Impediments Don't Get Removed

August 01, 2011

Daily Scrum kicks off. The Team starts to gather around the Scrum board. They go through the paces as they are supposed to. Every team member answers three questions. There is a familiar pattern in the way they are reporting the impediments. They seem to have quite a few impediments which are blocking them from making progress. After observing the Daily Scrum over a few days it becomes obvious that they are facing several impediments. These impediments are not being removed. Sounds familiar?

This is a common trap. Even some experienced ScrumMaster fall into this one. The team is facing impediments which are hindering their progress. These impediment are discussed over and over again, but nothing seems to happen beyond this discussion.

This pattern comes in several variations.

Impediment not visible and thus not tracked

The impediments that the team members bring into the Daily Scrum remain more or less the same, over the course of the Sprint, or several Sprints in worst case. But these impediments are not visible. The ScrumMaster is not tracking the list of impediments. If the ScrumMaster claims to have an impediment backlog, It's not visible. The progress made in terms of removing the impediments remain vague at best.

The team goes through the Daily Scrum routine. The Daily Scrum does start to feel like a very mechanical, boring chore. They go through the questions and hurry back to their desks. At times the ScrumMaster mumbles something about an action taken on an impediments or a bit of progress made on another impediment. But overall, the picture is very blurred. The process lacks visibility. It lacks accountability.

Impediments not removed on continuous basis

The ScrumMaster takes action on some of the impediments. Rest of the impediments remain ‘unremoved’. This irritates the team. In some of the teams, these issues are brought up in the retrospective meetings. A few items are selected as a result and some progress is made. But they make the same mistake again and don't track theses items. They achieve random degree of success with these measures, but the root of the problem remains the same.

There are several problems caused by this situation
The team is severely hampered in achieving its Sprint goal. The team struggles to complete the items they committed to. This pushes the team morale down.
The Daily Scrum becomes rather ineffective. The team members show up just because they are supposed to. They start of feel like it's waste of time.

Removing impediments is one of the core responsibilities of the ScrumMaster. ScrumMasters must remove and track impediments. This process must be very transparent.

Learn more about Scrum and Agile in one of Scrum Master Certification Courses.

© Faisal Mahmood

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