How we increase cohesion and enable faster improvement

Willem-Jan Ageling
Jun 12, 2018 · 3 min read
Our anonymised Company Impediments Wall

Our company works with Scrum. We have about 15 Scrum Teams. Every Scrum Team runs into impediments. Often the impediments can be resolved within the Development Team. When this is not possible the Scrum Master steps in.

Whenever the Scrum Master can’t resolve an impediment himself or herself, he or she brings this to the Company Impediments Wall.

The Company Impediments Wall is located on a central spot in the building, clearly visible for everyone. Each individual passes this on a regular basis.

The Company Impediment Wall has 5 normal swim-lanes and a fast-track lane for urgent impediments. This means that we tackle at most 6 impediments at the same time. Anyone within the company can raise impediments, which are grouped per department below the swim-lanes. Also anyone can pitch their/an impediment to be put on one of the swim-lanes.

Twice a week we gather around the Company Impediments Wall. The group generally consists of the Scrum Masters, the (Servant Leader) Team Leads, the head of R&D, anyone with an interest in one or more impediments and anyone that is having an action to resolve an impediment.

Whenever there is room on the Company Impediments Wall, when at least one of the swim-lanes is free, we give people the opportunity to pitch their impediment. Next we vote which impediment is seen as most important to pick up. Finally we define actions for the impediment.

The other part of the session we discuss the status of the impediments on the swim-lanes. We determine the ongoing actions and whenever an action is closed we determine if an impediment requires further action or not. If the impediment is resolved we take it from the board, making room for a new impediments to be picked up.

We have resolved a lot of impediments this way.

Here are some examples of impediments we tackled:

  • Someone identified a manual step in the deployment process as waste. It was brought to the Company Impediment Wall as something that blocks us from deploying faster and then it got resolved. The step was automated.
  • Another person addressed that there is no company-authorized way to share big files with external partners. It turned out to be something that more people struggled with. It is now being tackled.
  • One of the most vivid issues had to do with how a certain tooling was introduced by management. A Scrum Master brought it as an impediment because it violated the company agreements of self-organizing teams and bottom-up approach of best-practices regarding tooling. This was acknowledged and then resolved.

These are the major benefits for us:

  • Faster resolution of impediments that are outside of the Scrum Team’s control
  • We often found that impediments impacted more teams or sometimes even the whole company.
  • Alignment with the rest of the company. It raised the awareness on a company level on what is actually impeding the organisation.

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Agile Insights

Various perspectives on Agile

Thanks to Cor van der Velde

Willem-Jan Ageling

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Interested in ways to work better together. I love the discussion with open-minded people.

Agile Insights

Various perspectives on Agile

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