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The Little Book of Impediments-Intriguing title and the rational

 
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Hello Author,

The Little Book of Impediments- such an intriguing title what is the rational behind it and interested to know your reasoning for it
and how it relates to every day Agile world.

Thanks
Satya



 
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The idea of impediments, also known as obstacles or blockers, is very common even in the traditional development world. In the world of agile software development, there's a heightened focus on removing impediments/obstacles/blockers because it limits agility. I don't know if anyone familiar with agile software development concepts would find the title that intriguing; my initial reaction was "Huh, so somebody finally decided to write a book about these... that's a great title. Catchy and intuitive."

Edit: Well, ok, since "intriguing" is defined as "arousing interest or curiosity," I have to admit that the book title did also make me curious as to what exactly Tom had to say about impediments. Again, I think it is a great title.
 
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I like the title, and yes these impediments or what i sometimes call it ISSUES, are needed to define and to establish a pattern of solutions that might be put up, but of course this isn't the case most of the times.

I would definitely need to check this out.
 
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Thank you - I'm glad you found the title intriguing. The idea for the book had originally come from a series of talks about impediments and how to deal with them that I had done for some Agile conferences. The more that I talked about them, the more I realized two things: 1) I had a lot of passion for the subject, and 2) it was a subject that some folks were very interested in as well. You see it all came from a very humble premise: I really sucked at finding impediments.

I was that guy who would go through a standup with teams and not a single impediment would come up. Nothing at all. Day after day, teams seemed to struggle to find any impediments at all. Even more embarrassing were those times when they did identify impediments, and I would manage to ignore/or not hear them! I started to feel like I had some sort of weird blind spot when it came to impediments. I have a theory why it was so hard for me to see impediments: I had become so accustomed to dealing with organizational blockers and obstacles that it was almost second nature for me to just climb right over them without even giving it a second thought! The more I talked to others about it, the more that I realized that I wasn't alone. Other people struggled to see impediments too. They shared the same "blind spot" that I had.

I gave this affliction that some of us seemed to suffer from a name: Impedimentia. It's defined by an inability to see problems and obstacles that are right in front of you. And I started to suspect in some organizations it has reached epidemic levels. Well, I genuinely felt that impediments, while seemingly obvious, can be hard to identify and certainly can be very hard to overcome. So that's what motivated me to explore them and to start writing about them.
 
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Is inability to perceive impediments an impediment? Or is it a case of your taking for granted that you can overcome or circumvent them so much that you simply forget them? Then you make the realisation that other people can't similarly ignore them. It is a big step when you realise you can do something that others can't and then put yourself in their shoes. So many people never realise that what comes easily to them doesn't come at all easily to other people and the “can”s then can't help the “can't”s.
 
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Campbell Ritchie wrote:Is inability to perceive impediments an impediment? Or is it a case of your taking for granted that you can overcome or circumvent them so much that you simply forget them? Then you make the realisation that other people can't similarly ignore them. It is a big step when you realise you can do something that others can't and then put yourself in their shoes. So many people never realise that what comes easily to them doesn't come at all easily to other people and the “can”s then can't help the “can't”s.


I think there are two things there: being oblivious and being insensitive.

Being oblivious is more of the Dunning-Kruger Effect or what Don Rumsfeld infamously called the "... unknown unknowns; things we don't know we don't know." I'm not sure if Tom discusses these in his book.

I think what you describe as the "cans" assuming the "can'ts" somehow should or could figure things out for themselves falls under being insensitive. I admit that sometimes I can still fall victim to this once in a while. We see it all the time in these forums, especially in the beginner's forum where seemingly simple things that would take us a minute to solve takes much longer, and needing multiple hints, and lots of guiding, redirecting, explaining, even cajoling, before OP will figure it out. This not only shows the difficulty OP has in understanding but I think also our insensitivity to what keeps OP from gaining the level of understanding we're trying to impart.

It's the same thing I see in the dojo with beginners as well. Sensei shows the technique, I as the senior student demonstrate it to my junior partner, and then when it's their turn, they do something totally different. Sometimes you look at them and think "What the h*ll are you doing because that's not what we just showed you!"

If you've ever tried to teach a teenager how to drive, you'll understand the kind of frustration involved.

In any of those cases, you need a lot of patience, perseverance, and empathy. Having also gone through the same learning process helps. And as always, context matters. Andy Hunt, in his book "Pragmatic Thinking & Learning: Refactor Your Wetware" notes that experts are sometimes not the best teachers because they do a lot of things heuristically, almost by instinct. Their context is internal and it's often difficult for them to express the reasons or even the thought process behind what they do. Sometimes, the best teachers are those who can not only demonstrate but also walk the students through the thought process, giving them the context that they need to understand the "Why" of "What" and "How" things are done.
 
Campbell Ritchie
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Junilu Lacar wrote:. . . I think there are two things there: being oblivious and being insensitive. . . . I think what you describe as the "cans" assuming the "can'ts" somehow should or could figure things out for themselves falls under being insensitive. I admit that sometimes I can still fall victim to this once in a while.

I would not describe you as oblivious or insensitive.

. . . the beginner's forum where seemingly simple things that would take us a minute to solve takes much longer

That is where patience is called for, as well as remembering that we were all beginners once, just like teenagers learning to drive/chat to girls/boys, drink beer/coffee, etc. This is where the “can”s I mentioned earlier are at risk of failing to help the next generation.

. . . I as the senior student demonstrate it to my junior partner, and then when it's their turn, they do something totally different. Sometimes you look at them and think

My, that is a good idea. Why didn't I think of it?

. . . And as always, context matters. . . . experts are sometimes not the best teachers because they do a lot of things heuristically, almost by instinct. . . .

Exactly the same thing as we see on BJ every other hour
 
Junilu Lacar
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Campbell Ritchie wrote:

. . . I as the senior student demonstrate it to my junior partner, and then when it's their turn, they do something totally different. Sometimes you look at them and think

My, that is a good idea. Why didn't I think of it?


Yes, there are those wonderful moments, too. That's actually why I like working with the new people, because they will sometimes do strange yet wonderful things. Same thing goes with programming. Great point! Thanks for reminding me about it. And that actually goes to your point about the "cans".  
 
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