Celebrating 12 1/2 sprints – small gestures can go a long way

In Denmark, we have some funny traditions. Take wedding anniversaries as an example. We celebrate 12 ½, 25, and 50 years, not that most marriages last that long these days. In all three cases, family, friends, and neighbors build an arch around the front door of the couple’s house the night before the anniversary. In the case of 12 ½ years, it’s called a cobber wedding, and it’s tradition only to build half an arch. On the day of the anniversary, they gather outside the house in the early morning hours (typically between 6 and 7 am) to wake the couple by singing, often accompanied by music.

Now why all this talk about wedding traditions? Today I experienced a small gesture with a huge impact. At my current client, the Product Owners on a rather large project had come up with the idea of celebrating the first 12 ½ sprints since they switched to Agile. They built half an arch around the entrance to the office from colored cards with Agile lingo they had picked up as part of the process. They also arranged champagne and cake and invited the team and their stakeholders to participate in the celebrations. Luckily they didn’t stick to the tradition of doing it early in the morning, and they didn’t sing either. Instead, one of the company’s Directors gave a short and funny speech reflecting on the first part of their Agile journey. He compared what they had gone through with a real marriage, talking about the different stages, from excitement in the beginning, how reality kicked in, and how they have now increased predictability and productivity.

The entire event was over in half an hour, but I’m sure it significantly impacted the team. The Product Owners and the stakeholders send a clear signal of appreciation for their effort, and they all had a chance to put the daily work aside for a moment and reflect on how far they had come. As one of my colleagues, Brian Soegaard, pointed out, there was something special about doing it in the middle of a Sprint. It was completely unexpected, and it served as a nice break from the daily work.

Now I’m not suggesting that you start copying weird Danish wedding traditions, but maybe try to think about how you can surprise your team and show them you appreciate their work.

If you have arranged or experienced similar gestures of appreciation, I would love to hear from you. Please use the comments to share and inspire.

The pictures on the right are from today’s event.
Feature image credit: Unsplash.com

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