Although the steps described in the series of posts on dealing with impediments sound rather straightforward and easy, solving impediments is often perceived as stressful and difficult by many people. In the previous posts, I described how you can recognize and understand impediments, find effective solutions, and decide what to do to solve them. This last post explores what you can do to become more effective in dealing with impediments.
Agile emphasizes establishing teams and giving them whatever they need to do their work. Teams will face problems in their daily work. Agile calls these problems impediments. Agile teams need to be able to handle impediments effectively.
What to learn more about handling impediment? Read my book Problem? What Problem- Dealing Effectively with Impediments using Agile Thinking with Problem-solving Practices!
This book is for agile teams, Scrum masters, tech leads, agile coaches, consultants, developers and testers, project managers, line managers, and CxOs; basically, anyone who is looking for an effective way to handle impediments or support people in doing that.
Here are some examples of difficulties that I see that people have when dealing with impediments. I’m providing solutions that will make it easier to handle impediments.
Understand what you are trying to solve
When working with people I see them acting on symptoms and taking actions before they really understand the problem. I’ve witnessed people doing the first solution that came to mind to find out that it didn’t solve their problem or took a lot of effort.
My advice: invest time in really understanding the impediment before taking action to solve it. Once you really know what is happening it becomes much easier to do something about it.
Decide as a team
I see teams going back and forth, they seem unable to decide what to do. Everybody throws in ideas, which makes it even more difficult to choose one because people might feel that their solution is not good.
My advice: Don’t take things too personal. In the end it doesn’t matter who came up with the idea. In great teams people build solutions by taking an idea and extending and refining it, making it better. Teamwork leads to great ideas which are created and owned by the team.
Listen to each other
There might be team members who refuse to do what the team has agreed. Either they will object and say that they won’t do it, or they will silently disobey.
My advice: Create a culture where people are listened to and where their concerns are seriously considered. Use their feedback to improve the team’s solution, or to look for a better one. Appreciate honesty over obeying.
Support your teams
Teams new to agile might initially be depending too much on decisions or actions from their managers. They are used to being told what to do, and scared to do something that their managers might disagree with.
My advice: Ask managers to give space to teams and individuals. Support them in taking decisions and actions. Stand with them if things go wrong (yes, even if you expect that it will fail), help them to learn and get better in what they are doing.
Handling impediments effectively
This is the sixth and last post in the series on handling impediments. In previous posts I explored:
- Why agile teams need to be able to deal with impediments.
- How you can recognize problems.
- What you can do to get a shared understanding of a problem in the team.
- How you can find effective solutions for solving impediments.
- How to decide on the actions that are needed to solve the impediments.
Agile emphasizes to establish teams and give them whatever they need to do their work. This series of posts on impediments has explored how teams can deal with impediments that will happen in their daily work.
If you want to develop individual and team skills to deal with impediments then I’d suggest joining my workshop Problem-solving using Agile Thinking and Practices. In this workshop, you can play the agile and lean impediment game which teaches you how to recognize and deal with problems and impediments and how you can deploy agile and lean practices to solve problems and become more agile and lean.