The Enemy is Called Impediment


Depending on the stage of the agile transformation we are entering, we can face different impediments. Impediment is the state of a certain level of anxiousness when we encounter an obstacle on the way to reach a certain goal. To my view, impediments can be divided into:

  • Temporary problems (often due to an improper risk handling, but also due to some objective reasons like broken server, employees away on sick leave…)
  • Structural impediments (could be the same reason as the above, but structural nature of the issue requests more time and analysis – see the example below)

The organizational transformation success and perception will be important for people and teams. If leaders help out to resolve impediments in the people’s way, they will contribute to the credibility of incoming changes. My experience has shown a small number of impediments coming from the teams. Either they were solved by the teams themselves or they were not recognized as such. We believe it’s a mixture. The leaders are there to help teams to prevent, recognize and solve impediments.

If an impediment comes suddenly, it means (in general) that the problem of seeing and managing risks exists. Anticipating the risk is a skill and requires systematic thinking as well as experience.

The Structural impediments are the subjects of our leadership strategy, the main points of our transformation efforts and vision where to drive the whole organization (even if it may sound odd).

After several years of agile transition, taking Scrum as the main SW development framework, on our leadership team impediment board it was written:

“True deployment of Scrum”

It took us a long time to hang it there, and it stayed hanging for a long time. Why? – Because, if the organizational cultural mindset is to perform, to execute or, to be a bit drastic, only deliver on time, we are convicted to the double change as we go:

  • Fulfill the existing requirements of the current processes, policies, rules, targets, reports… So we need to make ‘adapters’ towards them to find a place for new practices
  • Adopt and apply new practices and thinking patterns in the part of the organization we are possible to influence

We progress gradually, with the latter depending on the previous, but also according to our ability to learn and change. If our vision is deploying Scrum ‘by the book’, while using the appropriate SW engineering practices; best in line with our transition moment, we are not there – we have a structural impediment.

Looking deeper, an adequate coaching (or coaches) was missing to deploy Scrum, which was another structural impediment – actually a cause. We were lacking systematic agile coaching.

This was good! Understanding that the problem exists is half of the solution! The other half is then left to Mr. Kaizen – continuous work to improve and resolve the issues – on all levels of the organizations – from the team up to the CEO.


We should learn to see impediments and opportunities to improve in our daily work by as regularly and as frequent as possible investing time to detect and resolve impediments.


Agile Transition and Transformation

MinfTheGapMarko, you are the transition” – well known statement in our leadership team when we were starting with agile. Our agile leader and coach was putting a lot of energy to drive our agile transformation and therefore he well deserved such an epithet.

However, the statement above reflects outsourcing or shift the burden mindset suggesting that someone else is driving and responsible for the change.What about the rest of us!? – Do we just continue to do the “work”?

So, thinking (or not thinking) about the transformation always reflects back to us as how do we make changes – how do we change ourselves, not just others and things around us.

Even though transformation may look similar to transition, to my view, it would be great to consciously make a difference. We usually use agile transition as a rubber to erase a particular terminology and to change some practices to the new ways of doing things. When we are done, we declare peace. Transition, as I would describe it, is a process that does not even need to be mentioned. It is a continuous effort. Transformation is on the other hand an effect of the transition and represents a vision where we would like to be and how closer to such a vision we are.At the end, it is just the terminology. The most important part is to go that road!

A while ago we had a small celebration – one of our managers was going to retirement (I hope I will be so vital during my retirement celebration party!). He has given a small speech looking back to his career and said:

I had two really big changes in my professional career – one was when we changed the technology from mechanical to electronic switching network nodes. We needed to learn everything from scratch.

The other, even bigger was transformation to agile”.

We actually never talked about it this way, but his career retro speech emphasized a magnitude of the biggest change in his 40 years of work. Even riding on the agile transition train for a few years, it was a moment to realize that our responsibility as leaders and our influence is tremendous. Why not use that chance!



While our transition is (or should be) a never ending journey in adopting and changing the way how business is done, transformation to agile mindset and how to become agile is rather a matter of setting it as a strategic organizational (and personal) goal. Please note, transformation of the organization to the agile one is a learning process, NOT an installation process.