We can’t go any faster Captain!

With many Scrum teams, they reach the point of attacking all the obvious impediments. And the impediments, at least in their minds, are all fixed. And they say, in effect, “we can’t make it go any faster Captain!” As that actor with the Scottish accent would say in the original Star Trek.

What’s wrong with this picture? (for the team)

Well, many things. I will name a few below:

1. Not so obvious impediments.

What I often find is that lots and lots of not-so-obvious impediments still need to be fixed. Things that they overlooked. Or someone didn’t see. Often they are the “elephant in the room” kind of impediment. One example has been a ‘command & control’ ScrumMaster (who often used to be a command & control PM) and there are many others.

Some people assume all impediments must be technical.
Some think all are to do with Continuous Integration.
Some think all are facilitation issues.
Some think if we take care of espresso and babysitting we are done.
Some think that disruptions by managers are the only impediments.
Some think think that the initial setup of the infrastructure for the team is the only impediment.

But, the biggest impediment can be any of these, and possibly many other ones. Technical debt, for example. Or assuring we do not build new technical debt.

2. Impediments that seem immovable.

I am not in favor of attacking impediments that simply can’t be changed.

But, what I usually find is that teams assume that three or five impediments can’t be fixed or improved, and they give up trying to work on them or even asking anyone else to work on them.

Usually, you need something to “juice” the team to get them to even think of working on these kinds of impediments. Often, the impediments are actually easy to move, e.g., after talking to the right manager. Not always, but often.

3. “We’re perfect now.”

There is this deep human desire to be perfect, to be done getting better. To feel we are the best and can’t possibly improve. Or maybe the desire is better expressed as: We want to believe we have no imperfections. (We want to ignore or hide those imperfections.)

But the wise ones know, and even a 6-year-old knows, no one is perfect.

So, we must ask the team to always say, even though we have won the Super Bowl last Sprint, we have to get better. So, what is the biggest impediment now? What is the biggest thing to improve on now?

The relentless pursuit of perfection… but a perfection that always will elude us.

The Lean people say that when we approach our earlier definition of perfection, we become wise enough to define a new, higher definition of perfection which we can then pursue.


The point here is to go faster! Well, to get more work done in the 40 hours we have each week. Well, to give more Business Value to the customer per timebox (release), but ‘faster’ is a simple way of saying it. Often confusing to people, unfortunately.

There are many more issues around this, but these three are a start.



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