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. The next morning 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 with singing, often accompanied by some music.

Now why all this talk about wedding traditions? Today I experience a small gesture with a really big 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 have picked up as part of the process. They also arranged champagne and cake and invited the team and it’s stakeholders to take part 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 Directors of the company 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 pretty sure it made a big impact on the team. The Product Owners and the stakeholders send a clear signal of appreciation of 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 (@BrianSoegaard), 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 should start copying weird Danish wedding traditions, but maybe try to think about how you can surprise your team and show them you appreciate the work they are doing.

If you have arranged or experience 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.
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