We were in big trouble when heavy rain and flooding hit the city of Chennai during the first week of this past December. Our offices flooded and were closed for two weeks; one of our big campuses was flooded by five feet of water. As a result, we were running around to other offices nearby, and also to other areas, such as Bangalore.
However, we had been requested to continue our work as best as we could. Finally, my Scrum team got a meeting room in one of our other Chennai offices, but we were way behind in terms of meeting our sprint goal (after all, we had not had Internet or even power for a whole week). Nonetheless, the ScrumMaster, testing team, and development team sat down in the room with the test engineer, local architect, and business analyst and began face-to-face discussions.
Some good things came out of this. My development team had planned a feature for a two-week sprint, and although we had already lost that first week of the current sprint, they completed the features in three days. We were very excited, and we realized that having a meeting-room model worked well for us. Most of the organization uses the cubicle model for its work environment, and my Scrum team normally does indeed also work along with other teams on the floor. But we began to book a meeting room for two hours on a daily basis, and we used that meeting-room model of work culture for our development, discussions, testing, Scrum events, and so on.
We found that our team delivered high-quality features, and we sent the shippable increment to production release without even a single minor bug. Hence we made it an ongoing, daily practice to book a meeting room (with projector availability), and everyone liked this model. The team was able to hold a discussion as soon as anyone needed any requirement clarification. Technical help and support was always available during this period from my cross-functional team. We saw that we were reducing the feature delivery lead time and lowering variability as well.
As a Scrum team, we have been very successful during the last two sprints, and our team responsiveness has increased dramatically, as has our product quality and productivity. We have received a lot of appreciation from our stakeholders and higher management, even during the sprint when we lost a whole week due to rain and flooding. The team collaborated well and I could see that each person was organizing their work themselves, with great commitment and ownership. In addition, the team's business understanding also improved significantly during this time.
Overall, as a Scrum team, we now think big, do small, fail fast, and learn quickly. We see real improvement in these areas:
- Employee engagement
- Customer delight in the right product
- On-time delivery of shippable value to the customer
Not a bad result from some terrible weather.