Achieving a smooth flow of work through the system is a goal for many teams and organizations that embrace agile and lean approaches. However, the flow of work faces many impediments as it flows through teams and organizations. Agile and lean approaches can reveal impediments that impact teams and organizations. Often at the start of their agile transition, but also frequently after the initial transition, teams and organizations can find themselves with a significant quantity of impediments that demand attention. With limited time and capacity, they need techniques to help them understand the impediments and make decisions about where to invest their time. This paper introduces a new technique called Impediment Impact Diagrams that helps people to understand which impediments to address, and who needs to be involved in addressing them. The technique can also be used to understand other attributes of impediments such as the relative cost of removing the impediment, or the relative duration it is likely to take to remove the impediments. The Impediment Impact Diagram can be used on its own or as part of an Impediment Removal Process. Drawing from original research on impediment removal, this paper includes detailed steps to use the technique, presents several examples of Impediment Impact Diagrams from multiple teams and organizations, and describes their experiences with the technique.
Cisco Systems, Inc.