The Great installCore Kubbeh Experiment – Part 1

It was a warm July day, and only a few weeks since I’d started coming to the office on a regular basis again.  The crutches and leg cast made the commute a difficult task, but anything was better than another day stuck in bed.  It had been 7 weeks, now, since I broke my leg on vacation with my family.

Like many other development teams who work with Agile methodology, my team had a daily Stand-Up meeting at 10 AM.  We had a rule that anyone who was late, had to bring pastries for the whole team.  Between orthopedists, physical therapy, and even just the hardships of getting myself ready and out the door in the mornings, it was beginning to be a very tasty summer for my team mates.

I didn’t really mind.  It was a bit expensive, but I quickly realized that it felt great to bring a smile to the faces of my mates when I walked (or rather, hobbled) in at eleven.  To me, that was worth the extra few bucks.

On this particular day I was a bit nervous, as I’d broken tradition.  On a whim, instead of bringing pastries, I’d brought Kubbeh (a traditional Arabic food made of fried cracked wheat, minced onions, pine nuts and finely ground lean beef – or vegetarian with mushrooms) from a take-out place that I’d fallen in love with a few years earlier.  How would people react to fried food – and meat, at that! – before noon?

Little could I imagine the impact that it would make on my team, and later on other teams in the company.

Fast forward six months…

Kubot for the Great ironSource Kubbeh Experiment

Kubot for the Great ironSource Kubbeh Experiment

I was already walking on my own (I could even hop on one foot!), and long since coming on time to the daily meeting.  Turns out that the Kubbeh was such a big hit, my team mates asked me to keep bringing it.  They loved it, even more than they’d loved the pastries.  To the extent that even though I was no longer coming late, I was still coming with the Kubbeh once every week or so.

But it was a bittersweet day.  Sweet because I was going to bring Kubbeh and make everyone feel good.  Bitter because it was my last day on the team, and the tradition was going to end; or at least, so I assumed.  I brought the food to the usual accompaniment of cheers – folks dropped what they were doing and came to eat and laugh together for a few minutes.  One of my colleagues pulled me over to tell me an innocent-sounding comment.

“Issac, I’m going to miss the Kubbeh tradition!  You know, I found that I work so much better on days when you bring it?  I write more code, and less buggy code on Kubbeh days.”  And my colleague changed the subject.

Just an innocent comment.

But I was stunned.

I’d always known that everyone enjoyed it, and even that I enjoyed the good feeling it gave me to observe the positive effects I had on their days.  But I’d never stopped to think about the effect that it had on the company.

Fast forward six months…

It was a cold and rainy morning, and I was excited.  I’d moved around in the company quite a bit in the past few months, but the Kubbeh tradition stayed.  Every week or two, I’d bring some hot Kubbeh for my team mates, whichever department I happened to be a part of at the moment.  Sometimes, team mates from departments I’d previously worked in would chip in some money, and I’d bring for them, too.

But today was different.

Today I was bringing Kubbeh for several departments – I almost depleted the supply at the fast food place I brought them from – and more importantly, I was going to follow up on that innocent comment.  Today would be The Great ironSource Kubbeh Experiment.

The Great ironSource Kubbeh Experiment

The Great ironSource Kubbeh Experiment

I brought the Kubbeh to the usual accompaniment of good cheer, and happy people.  But today, I asked everyone who ate (and everyone who didn’t, too) if they could take two minutes and fill out a Google Doc questionnaire that I prepared.  Just a few questions.  And another short questionnaire for managers with direct reporters.

I wanted to see if that was just an innocent comment, or, as I suspected, if this tradition could really be having an effect on us as a company.

(For the results, see Part 2 of this post)

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