Long lived impediments

Long lived impediments

Just a reminder, when I refer to leaders in my talks, I am referring to anyone within the organization that chooses to act like a leader rather than people who are designated a position of leadership.

I often come across leaders and executives who let long-lived impediments happen on their watch, and I wanted to speak to you about the danger of allowing that to happen.

These are issues that have been escalated above the control and influence of the team, and actively require an intervention from leadership or executive teams to resolve.

Some of these impediments have happened over the past few months whilst others could be there for years. You need to keep an eye on these impediments and proactively address them early.

The problem often arises when leadership teams say that individuals and teams are empowered when they aren’t actually empowered. Individuals and teams don’t have the authority or the influence necessary to resolve the impediment at their level and are dependent on leadership to address these issues on their behalf.

Empowerment is a spectrum; it isn’t an on and off switch.

It’s dangerous when leadership teams believe that their teams are empowered and yet don’t provide them with everything they need to act as an autonomous, empowered team.

Also, if there is a lack of systems thinking throughout the organization, managers and junior leadership teams will focus on optimizing at the local level without thinking about how those actions will impact the entire system.

“If every team is efficient. That is the greatest way to go out of business.” – Eliyahu Goldratt

If all you are thinking about is efficiency at the local level, you aren’t considering how work flows throughout the entire system. Having efficiency tunnel vision means that teams work in isolation without focusing on effectiveness or optimization of the entire system.

It is important for leadership teams to allow their teams time to think and consider how their work impacts other departments and business units. Time to consider how their work flows throughout the system and how they can be more effective in their work whilst optimising for the system.

If you are a leader or executive, your job is to nuke long-lived impediments and ensure that any new impediments or obstacles creating bottlenecks in the system are removed quickly and effectively.

The problem with long-lived impediments is that they affect the morale of teams, demotivate people and teams, and they slow everything down.

If you are focused on improving time to market and delivering continuous value to customers, you need to be ruthless with impediments and help your team by removing those impediments and optimizing the system.

If you don’t know where to start, try talking to a scrum master or agile coach within the organization. They are bound to have a list of impediments, ranked in terms of priority, that you can address and resolve as soon as you are able to.

Doing so will have an enormous impact on the business and help you achieve greater business agility.

John Coleman has deep experience and expertise working with executives, #leadership teams and product development teams to achieve increased #businessagility and create environments where creativity and collaboration produce high-performance teams.

If you are interested in helping your team or organization achieve greater agility and want to explore agile training options, visit our training page.

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Agile,Agile Leadership,Executive Agility
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