Public Impediment List: “We don’t want to see the bad news.”

The Scrum Guide does not mention it, but I strongly advocate a public impediment list.

The simple idea is: visual management, and single piece flow off the ‘top’ of the list.  That is: Make the team’s impediments visible and visual.  Prioritize them. And then actively work them each day.  With at least one meaningful impediment getting fixed each sprint, so that the Team can enjoy an notable velocity improvement each sprint.

What’s the problem?  There are several, and let’s discuss two today.

1. Some impediments are personal and should not be put on the list as we originally identify them.

To me this is easy. An example that is dramatic to talk about is that Sarah and Sam are having an affair.  Some or all of the team knows about it, and it is ‘disrupting’ the team in some way.

The issue: listing this specific personal impediment on a public forum will not help. Fair enough.

The easy solution is that those ‘personal’ impediments should not be listed on the public impediment list.  It may need to be more complicated than that.

2. ‘We don’t want to see the bad news.’

This is actually a very common and difficult problem.

Often members of an organization — while they may never say it this way — will not want to see the problems in the organization.

Sometimes this will manifest as a denial of some of the impediments. And, to be fair, there should be a healthy discussion about whether all things mentioned are really impediments. Certainly we see people ‘defending’ things that are really impediments.

A related factor, though, is the wish to feel good about ourselves.  The impediment list makes us, often, see that we are….more imperfect than we sometimes want to admit.  This is tough on the organizational ego.

So, building in some humor, and showing the value of  striving to be better are important things to discuss.

 

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