CPR Technique

by | Oct 13, 2011

The software world has misused so many terms from the medical profession that one more would not hurt.

CPR – Categorize, Prioritize, Resolve.

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


How do you view your world?

To me lack of impediments is like moving 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 of impediments that should be worked through resolution.

For impact assessment, ‘dot-voting’ could be a technique to bubble up impediments that sap most energy from your team. (As has been done on 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. Impediments that get ignored or not addressed fall through the cracks and ignored and accepted as norms for team/organization culture.

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 with in the team fall into the ‘me’ circle. Items that can be influenced and require assistance from managers, organizationals, other teams etc fall into the influence zone. Items that can’t be acted upon or resolved via influence are in the soup. Many organizational scale impediments tend to fall into 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, as they are best positioned to address these.

Identifying problems have a negative impact while resolving problems have a positive impact.

Resolving a few problems is better than collecting data about many problems.


  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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