Ambling Madly: #5 Helsinki — Scrum Dining

#5: Helsinki, February 2009

To my shame, on this trip I never left the hotel in the heart of (yes, very cold) Helsinki. Get there, eat, sleep, teach, write… go home. With no external input from the culture my mind stagnated, and I struggled to think of anything to write for this blog entry. I had some sketchy ideas centered on how this particular group of Finns (12/15) mostly broke the stereotype I wrote about in my last Helsinki blog. Was that enough? Where else would I take that… assumptions, pigeon-holing, we create our own reality…? All just vague thoughts right now. I procrastinated.

Then I received an email from one of the participants, Shamil Salakhetdinov (a Russian, not a Finn) who had stayed at the same hotel. During the two days of his stay at the Helsinki hotel Shamil experienced the services of two different restaurant teams in the dining room; he extrapolated some intersting Scrum-centric learning as a result. I recognize a good blog opportunity when I see one, so with Shamil’s permission, and in his own words, here is his dining experience.

– first evening I have come to the restaurant and I have asked for some salad, some meat and some wine, and I expected to get a small salad for starters, and a good piece of beef with some vegetables or something like that, and a 1/3 of glass of wine. I didn’t use the menu, and a nice looking blond waitress Anna didn’t force me to follow this “menu-driven proven dinner ordering process” – she just asked me to clarify at what level I wanted to get the beef fried and how much wine I exactly wanted to have, and she didn’t ask how much grams or other measurement units – she just asked me to show the expected “wine volume” by pointing to the level of the glass at which I wanted to get the wine to be filled.

Some time passed and she brought exactly the expected volume of wine and a well just enough heated bred, but after another while she brought me a plate with several big leaves of salad and a small piece of meat on top of salad. That wasn’t expected to be served that way I must say! But that was all my fault I decided as I wasn’t clear with my dinner “specification”. OK. And the food was delicious!

Finished with the main course I asked Anna to serve some dessert – the best (they can prepare and serve for that day I told her) on her own opinion – and she promised to surprise me, and that dessert was also delicious.

I then asked for some good coffee – with the same great “end result”.

I was very delighted, gave good tips, and I have got “Good night” wishes from Anna…

During the dinner everything was served promptly, playfully, with friendly smile, and despite the fact that I have got unclear order and I received first not the food I expected to get I was quite satisfied…

– the second evening there was another team there in[ the] Hotel restaurant, and another waitress ready to serve the dinner but she was looking concerned about her own issues and not smiling. I decided to strictly follow their menu… To be short – the end result wasn’t good, and it was more expensive than previous evening’s one. There were many other small details done differently than by previous team – just one – the bread wasn’t heated properly on my taste etc.etc.

Recap: the experienced teams don’t need a lot of details to get started delivering good products and/or services, and such experienced teams can often deliver results not expected by customers but anyway being what the customers wanted to have this time (of the day) most of all. Experienced teams may be expensive to start with and/or they could produce less ROI in the beginning but in long run they will be much more profitable because they guarantee high customer satisfaction with little efforts/involvement of the latter, and therefore they get the customers “hooked” and converted to returning customers…

The inexperienced team might produce some good profits in the beginning, especially using proven development process but in long run they will (inevitably) fail, loose customers, result in low ROI…

I think Shamil’s reflections illustrate how, when we are impassioned by something, we see it reflected in the world around us. Scrum principles and practices are not limited to delivering good software. It is about delivering happiness. We can be as happy with a good dinner as with a new software product. Perhaps the former is sometimes even more important.

Download the PDF version: Ambling Madly 5_Helsinki Scrum Dining_blog

Posted in Agile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*