Mattias Skarin

Mattias Skarin

Kanban, Lean and Agile mysteries

Getting management involvement in Scrum

If your aim high, say for 2x or 4x performance, the impediments in your way must be removed. A sample can be:

  • Environment coherence and access
  • Not getting help from business
  • Removing worthless routines
  • Tools and machines

Doing this can be tricky since they rarely live within the team limit. However, dealing with impediments is an excellent task for your management to chew off.

If you need to ask for one single thing off your manager – it is to get their commitment to help you with impediments. However,  be humble and recognize that their effort and capacity is not endless. Battling organizational tasks is not "easy wins". So you are better off if they deal with a few at a time, but actually resolve them.

What I do is I ask team managers to assign two slots for impediments. And in the same way as team has their board,I make them visible outside the managers door:

Team manager impediment slots

The slots can be filled by the team. Good sources are daily standup or the retrospective.  If both slots are filled, team cannot assign one more impediment to the manager.

Rule: Team decides if the impediment has been solved or not.

Now, don’t not stop there. If team manager can’t get the problem solved he can escalate this to his department manager:

Department manager impediment slots

I’m surprised how well this worked, both in getting real help and  in not setting unrealistic expectations from teams point of view. A team biggest fear is often that an impediment will be "dropped" or "lost" over time. This lowers/removes that fear.

A learning experience is that all managers who tested working in this way have all made significant impact resolving even difficult issues.  In the beginning most slots were filled  But after 2-3 months free slots started to appear. So expect a "peak" early on, levelling out over time.

If you can’t get permission to make impediments visible outside the managers door, try  the ‘fridge’ guerilla technique.  (Invented and tested by my collegue Hans Brattberg). Put open impediments on the fridge door. That also does the trick!