The Power of Visualizing Impediments

by Jason Gardner (Ed.)

Managing obstacles and impediments is crucial to the success of any agile team. Impediments can arise for various reasons, such as lack of resources, unclear goals, processes, or communication difficulties. In order to effectively remove these impediments, teams must be able to visualize them and track their progress. In this blog, we will discuss the most effective ways to visualize impediments and how to remove them to maintain an agile team’s smooth operation.

The Power of Visualizing Impediments:

Visualizing impediments helps agile teams identify and track roadblocks effectively. Visual management tools such as Kanban boards can provide a clear view of the status of work progress. For example, Kanban boards include swim lanes for various stages, such as to-do, in-progress, and done. If a task is stuck in the “in-progress” column for too long, that may be a signal that there is a potential blockage. The daily Scrum also presents an opportunity to inspect the work and identify any blockages. By doing this, the team has visibility of the bigger picture, and the impediment can be addressed before it harms the overall workflow.

Using Metrics to Identify Impediments:

Tracking impediments is essential to identify patterns and trends. Implementing metrics such as lead time, cycle time, and throughput can help the team recognize processes that need improvement. By understanding the source of impediments, teams can tackle them more effectively and efficiently. For example, if the team discovers that they are frequently running out of resources, they can use metrics to identify the root cause and take steps to fix it. A visual board displaying such metrics is a useful tool for keeping track of impediments and ensuring they are being resolved.

Using Retrospectives to Identify Larger Impediments:

Identifying impediments is an ongoing process, and all team members should be involved. Scrum masters can facilitate regular sprint retrospectives where teams gather to reflect on their work’s progress and discuss potential obstacles. Impediments identified in a retrospective may be larger than the day-to-day impediments brought up in the daily scrum, such as needing an additional testing environment or a particularly painful approval process.

Identifying Trends in Impediments: 

Looking for trends in impediments can help scrum teams to identify multiple obstacles that are causing the same or similar issues. By analyzing patterns, the team can recognize systemic problems that need to be addressed to prevent similar impediments from arising in the future. For example, if the team notices that many recent impediments have involved approvals, they can then work with the wider organization to improve the approval process so that work flows more smoothly, such as automating part of the approval process, setting SLAs for approval turnaround times, or giving the team more authority to operate before they need to seek an approval. This way, the team can address multiple impediments at once, rather than just focusing on one at a time. This approach can save valuable time and resources, ensuring that the team can operate more efficiently in the long run. Additionally, by addressing systemic issues, the team can create a more sustainable and collaborative work environment that supports their ongoing success.


Visualizing impediments is an important part of agile teams’ operations, and it can provide clarity to identify and remove obstacles quickly. Use visual boards, metrics, daily Scrums and retrospectives to identify and address impediments so that the work can move freely.


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