Thursday, March 1, 2012

Impediment Removal Team (part I)

Being an overall successful agile transformation, every day brings new surprises. Here another one. I chair an Impediment Removal Team (IRT), which has a beautiful goal of removing impediments which cannot be removed otherwise. So if a team member tried, then a scrum master tried, then it was raised at Scrum of Scrums and could not be removed, the impediment is raised at IRT which consists of C- and VP-level executives who are in a position to make the decision. Most of the impediments are resolved right at the IRT meeting, but event if not, we always come up with a set of action items which lead to the impediment being removed in a matter of days. When there are no impediments raised, we just cancel this weekly meeting. It is not good for emergencies obviously, but it works really well to resolve repeating coordination, communication, or process-related issues, as well to make major decisions regarding technologies, tools, resources, roles, and many other long-term concerns. We make sure that both parties are invited, the one who raised the issue and the one who they think is responsible or may be able to help. I made a special emphasis on the goal being removing the impediments, so we do not do root cause analysis or ask "whose fault is this", especially because the impediments are mostly about the process, not about individuals performing their duties. Prior to IRT, ideally at least 24 hours before the meeting, the scrum master who raised an impediment sends out a brief description of the issue, and what has been done to resolve.
IRT is not my idea, it was suggested by my trainer, Joe Little, when I took my CSM class in response to my questions about scaling Agile at an enterprise level, but I have been thinking we gave it our own twist and made it work. We got solid support and encouragement from our CTO who is ready to attend, listen actively, make decisions, and empower teams to execute. My manager, Executive Director for Agile Practices, encouraged and actively supported the IRT and has been helping to drive it through. Participants showed up and actively contributed. I thought things were going pretty well until two days ago.
In my next posting, I will tell you what happened two days ago.

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