CPR Technique for Impediments

by | Oct 13, 2011

CPR – Categorize, Prioritize, Resolve: Impediments

This is simple mnemonic that aids me to be methodical in my approach towards uncovering and resolving issues that impede progress.


How do you view your world?

Lack of any impedence means your team is in a frictionless environment. This state exists when

a. No work is being done

b. It is an ideal theoretical context

To challenge myself and my teams to look beyond business as usual, I look to creating a categorization mechanism that people can relate to. Lean concepts of load, flow and waste are very simple to understand and use.


Impediments Perspective

There are other categorizing perspectives such as

1. process, tools, technology, culture

2. Not enough time, Takes a lot of time

3. Personal, Team, Organizational

4. Stop, Stall, Go!

5. One off, Always, Sometimes

There are no limits to how you may slice your world of work, expose perspectives and uncover impediments that were hidden.


The purpose of prioritizing is two fold:

1. Identify impediments that have most negative impact on having ‘fun’ at work

2. Select a handful to work all the way through to resolution.

For impact assessment, ‘dot-voting’ is a useful technique to bubble up energy sappers. (As in the picture above)

Many impediments get treated as ‘Business as usual’  – often times because people are not sure how to influence or act towards resolution. Productivity issues that get ignored or do not get addressed, first fall through the cracks, then get ignored, and then finally accepted as norms for team/organization culture. Complacency creeps up slowly until it becomes the norm.

Recognizing where the team can take action, where they can influence and what is ‘the soup’ is very important to focus on what can be done over what should be done.

zone of action inaction

zones of action inaction

As a self directed exercise, the team members move impediment stickies to into an appropriate zone.

  • Items that they feel they can act upon and attempt to resolve within the team fall into the ‘me’ circle.
  • Items that can be influenced and require assistance from managers, or other teams/groups fall into the influence zone.
  • Items that can’t be acted upon or resolved via influence are in the soup.


Take action on resolving impediments that are in the ‘me’ zone. Act towards influencing others in your organization to assit with impediments in the ‘influence’ zone. Expose impediments that are in the soup to senior management, because they are best positioned to address these.

Resolving a few problems is always better than collecting data about many problems that remain unresolved.

Our Agile Team Coaching services can help your team take action and get on the journey towards continuous improvement.


  1. Merlyn

    Like this – as a part of the retrospective toolkit for the scrum master and team

  2. Soma

    Loved the post, very informative and useful. Looking forward for the next one.


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