Agile Coaches and Scrum Masters have one central task: to remove impediments to their teams’ progress in their work.

Initially, some of those impediments will be very practical, such as getting hold of the right people, or the right kit, to get the job done.

But after a while, they discover that a lot of the remaining impediments are in people’s heads*. People act in certain ways because they have certain thoughts: if the boss, or the team member, or the product owner, thought differently, the work would go more smoothly.

ground-fogAnd so Agile Coaches and Scrum Masters look around for tools to remove those impediments, too – and they discover Clean Language.

So how, specifically, can a Clean Language-trained Agile Coach remove impediments in someone’s head? They aren’t brain surgeons, after all! They can’t just reach inside someone’s skull and fish out the blockage!

But they can do the next best thing.

They can help the person concerned to understand the impediment, and remove it if the person chooses to.

Step one is understanding the impediment. For some people, this impediment might be like hitting a brick wall. For someone else, theirs is like wandering in fog. For a third person, it’s like a scene from Alice in Wonderland.

That’s what Clean Language enthusiasts mean by “working with metaphor”. It’s like we agree to treat your imaginary friends as real!

Step two happens once the person, and the Agile Coach, both know what kind of impediment is involved.

The person who gets to “reach inside” is the person whose head is involved. They become their own brain surgeon! Only they have the right – and the power – to adjust their own thoughts, if they choose to.

The Agile Coach using Clean Language, though, has some useful tools to hand. They can use the Clean Language questions to direct the person’s attention in specific ways: ways which have been shown to increase the likelihood of removing the impediments in people’s heads.

Often, the impediments simply melt away as a result.

That’s the great thing about the impediments in people’s heads. However real they initially are from the person’s point of view, the stuff they are made of is much softer than software. It’s softer, even, than a wisp of early-morning mist.

Thoughts can change in an instant, with very little effort… and in that instant, the impediment is gone.

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