So how do you handle this?
Invoke the Snake on the Wall!
Every time a team member feels as though a task they are responsible for is delayed, they write it down on a post-it note. The note includes the time lost (compared to if they didn't have the delay), the thing affected, the cause, and their initials. They take the note and add it to the "end of the snake" which is a growing row of notes on the wall.
Over time the snake is monitored for repetitive patterns. The issues consuming the most productivity time are prioritized to the top of the list for the manager, scrum master, and team to focus on reducing or removing. Scrum masters look at it daily, managers look at it weekly (or when it grows suddenly), and the team reviews it right before retrospectives to trigger new topics. When an item is solved, those related stickies are removed from the snake and it is collapsed back down (you can't let it grow infinitely, otherwise you demoralize the team).
What does this accomplish?
- it validates real issues
- it kills false beliefs and misdirected complaints
- it quantifies the impact of impediments
- it creates transparency for managers who don't believe what you say
- it empowers the team
- it is immediate
- it self-prioritizes
- it uncovers surprises
So, I'm trying it a second time with my new group. We'll see how it goes.