Scrum Needs More Than Just Chickens and Pigs

If you’re reading this, I assume you already know the “chicken and pig” roles in Scrum.  If not, go here to check it out.

Okay, pigs have “skin in the game”, and chickens…well…don’t. Since some people hate the chicken and pig metaphor, I’ve also referred to it is “committed” (pigs) and “interested” (chickens) (I didn’t come up with this, but I don’t remember who did).

The chickens are not allowed to talk in the daily Scrum meetings. They are only allowed to provide feedback in the Sprint Review (and of course at any time to the Product Owner, Scrum Master, or as requested by the Team).

I think there are two kinds of chickens. There is the kind that provide no valuable input. They historically have done nothing other than cause distractions. Whatever it is your building may have an indirect impact on their lives at best. These people are typically in some kind of management, or senior role.

The second kind of chicken are those folks we typically refer to as “SMEs” (Subject Matter Experts). We may or may not be building a solution for them. However, we rely on their expertise to enable us to deliver value. These kinds of chickens are usually are involved in legacy application development or re-platforming efforts. You probably won’t experience this group if you are doing new development. These types of chickens are needed when the Scrum team just does not have enough of the institutional knowledge needed to consistently deliver value.

Both of these types of chickens have one thing in common. They do not have “skin in the game”. If the project fails or succeeds, there typically will be little (or no) consequence for them. What they do NOT have in common is this; the involvement (or lack thereof) of the second kind of chicken can either bring a team to success, or to a miserable failure.

Teams will typically lump both types of chickens together and treat them the same way. It’s really insulting if you think about it. If I was *critical* to the success of a project but am labeled a “chicken”, and if I identify a risk, I shouldn’t have to wait to speak until spoken to (which is implied with chickens), or until the Sprint Review.

What do we call this third group? They really aren’t chickens as defined in the Scrum context. However, they aren’t pigs either since they aren’t the Product Owner, Scrum Master, or Team (those who do the actual work). We will fail without them.

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About Andre Simones
I am a founding partner of One80 Services that specializes in agile training, small business and startup guidance, and custom development. My goal is plain and simple. To see others succeed. I want to teach you how stop doing the things that aren't working and give you tools that will empower you to succeed on your own.

2 Responses to Scrum Needs More Than Just Chickens and Pigs

  1. Curtis says:

    struggling with the same thoughts – curious if you had updated your thoughts since this post back in 2010.

    Brings to mind the adage from _Animal Farm_ – – -> all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others :p

  2. leanagileguy says:

    Afte re-reading my post, I feel the same way. At the time I was working for a bigger organization that was migrating from a 30 year old or so system to a newer system. We were trying to implement Scrum, and ran into these kinds of things.

    However, I have changed my thinking in some ways re: Scrum. People typically implement out of the box Scrum in a very rigid manner. They like to draw lines around roles and ceremonies and sometimes act as the “scrum police” and try to point out everything that’t not being done according to the book. I used to be like that when I started. I’ve mellowed out quite a bit. Of course every Scrum principle can’t be completely malleable…that will also get you into trouble. I just think that many times people forget to use the brain that God gave them and just want to follow rules.

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