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Chickens, Pigs, Commitment and Teamwork

baconeggsI’m sure you’ve heard the fable of the chicken and the pig as it applies to Scrum. In case you haven’t, it goes something like this:

Chicken: Hey, Pig, let’s open a restaurant.

Pig: Okay. What would we call it?

Chicken: How about ‘Ham ‘n Eggs’?

Pig: No thanks. I’d be committed but you’d only be involved.

The essential concept focuses on the level of commitment to a goal. In this story, the pig would be fully engaged and completely committed to the restaurant. He’d be “all in” by any definition. The chicken would play an important role but would not be as committed. (In other words, the chicken can do other things but the pig cannot.) It’s a fun way of making a point about level of commitment.

On Scrum teams, software developers and testers tend to be viewed as pigs because they are usually “all in”. Stakeholders, managers, end users, etc. are chickens because they support the pigs but aren’t fully engaged with them. As for Scrum Masters and Product Owners, ideally they should be dedicated and focused making them pigs. But if they have responsibilities outside the team, they are chickens.

Funny and Divisive

Regrettably, this funny story divides software development teams creating a kind of inner circle (the pigs) surrounded by outsiders (the chickens). For example, the inner circle gets to speak at Scrum meetings, while the outsiders have to stand against a wall and be quiet. Does that sound like teamwork and collaboration to you?

Everyone has a job to do. If anyone, inner circle or outsider, doesn’t do their part, the entire effort is in jeopardy. The best way to get people to do their part is to actively engage them. Draw them in. Encourage their active participation. Recognize them for their contributions.

I really wish that old Scrum story would just go away. I don’t like being thought of as a chicken or a pig. The story has served its purpose and outlived its usefulness. I think we need to move on. How do you feel about it?

photo credit: drp via photopin cc

Updated: April 23, 2013 — 9:55 pm
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