Appreciative Impediments?


So I just finished reading the “Thin Book of Appreciative Inquiry” and I have to say that I’m still trying to figure it all out. One thing that the book makes clear is that focusing on problems can be a very negative pursuit. This resonated for me because some of the feedback I had received regarding my “Impediment Hunting” presentation had been along the lines of, “This is kind of negative material.”
Now honestly, that feedback had caught me by surprise. I didn’t really see looking for impediments as something that was really positive or negative. Obviously some people do though. And after reading about Appreciative Inquiry, I started to think about the negative character of impediments more and more. Now I’m not sure that finding impediments has to be a purely negative pursuit – but it raised an intriguing idea – What if instead of asking the traditional three questions in scrum:

  • What did I do yesterday?
  • What am I going to do today?
  • Any Impediments blocking my progress?

instead we could turn the three questions on their head this way:

  • What did I do yesterday?
  • What am I going to do today?
  • What one thing helped accelerate my progress yesterday?

It’s a fun idea. I’m going to have to give it a try. It would be fun to collect a list of all of my “accelerators” rather than all of my blocking issues. That’s a list I would want to share with others!

5 Responses to Appreciative Impediments?

  1. Jim Swanson says:

    A few days ago, I read this from

    “Be an observer of what works — do more of that. Be an observer of what doesn’t work — do less of that.”

    I think this fits Appreciative Inquiry very well. I have been working with a group on Appreciative Living, which is a process using AI principles for individuals. Slightly different approach, but very interesting. See for details.

    Jim S.

  2. Andrey says:

    There is another way – you can add not replace the third question. It is a vital information (what went wrong… so other team members could avoid it). We use 4 questions in our daily meetings 🙂

  3. Tom Perry says:


    I agree with you 100%. That sounds like a great idea!


  4. Darlene Pike says:

    It’s not about reporting what went wrong and keeping track of the problems! We report blockers in daily standups to identify unanticipated problems that come up in the course of doing the work, and to find ways to help the blocked team member become unblocked, thereby moving the sprint forward. This happens by the team reallocating its own resources on the fly or by the scrummaster escalating the matter to anyone outside the team who can help unblock the issue.

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