Niall McShane Niall McShane . Oct 10 . 3 min read

Over delegation leads to under-removal of impediments

In Obstacle 1 of our recent Executive Whitepaper, we discuss how sponsoring an Agile change program requires removing impediments.

What are Impediments?

Impediments are the processes, policies, practices, roles, procedures and other organisational ways of working that form part of the as-is operating model that needs to change to adopt Agile as a way to work. Impediments are blockers that are in the way of Agile adoption, and it is the sponsor’s job (the person accountable for the transition to Agile) to put procedures in place to remove them (quickly).

Without removing impediments, the organisation will stay in the valley of despair, people will get frustrated at the lack of progress, and the risk of a failed change program will rise significantly.

Common examples of impediments include how funds are provided for teams to quickly hire the right people or make a prioritisation or design decision.

  • Source Agility - Reducing Impediments

    Here is the advice I usually provide for executives who sponsor Agile change programs:

    • Establish a 'pathway' for impediments to flow into the executive team; if an impediment cannot be resolved locally where the work is happening, then ensure it flows up without it being an ‘escalation’; a functioning pathway and an actionable list of impediments that executives are working on is a leading indicator of success for an Agile change program.

    • Make it safe for everyone who reports to the executive to present the 'bad' news; often, the impediments to Agile adoption cause delivery to get “off-plan”. As an executive, I would advise that you welcome statuses that are NOT green. This is the way to uncover what is in the way of higher delivery performance levels.

    • Be an active Sponsor: Recently, I facilitated an offsite visioning workshop for a CIO, CTO and CISO; we were just about to finish the workshop when I asked, “What are each of you going to do after we leave this room? How is your behaviour going to change?”

      All of them struggled to understand what I was asking of them; they were so used to delegating actions to others (and not changing how they behave).

    • I advise taking action and following up personally when all else has failed to remove an impediment. This shows you are prepared to do your part and change how you work to clear the way for adopting Agile.

    • By taking these steps, executives can pave the way for higher delivery performance levels and ultimately drive the adoption of Agile within their organisation.

    • To learn more about overcoming impediments and achieving Agile transformation, continue exploring our blog for insights and strategies.

    • From Hurdles to High Performance: Download our Whitepaper
    • Lack of Purpose within the System

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