Pigs and Chickens

Several roles are defined in Scrum; these are divided into two groups; pigs and chickens, based on a joke about a pig and a chicken.

A pig and a chicken are walking down a road. The chicken looks at the pig and says, "Hey, why don't we open a restaurant?" The pig looks back at the chicken and says, "Good idea, what do you want to call it?" The chicken thinks about it and says, "Why don't we call it 'Ham and Eggs'?" "I don't think so," says the pig, "I'd be committed but you'd only be involved."

Based on this joke, pigs are the ones committed to the Scrum process; they are the ones with "their bacon on the line". Everyone else is a chicken.

Although chickens are not part of the actual Scrum process, they must be taken into account. An important aspect of Agile is the practice of involving users, business and stakeholders into parts of the process. It is important for the chickens to be engaged and provide feedback into the outputs for review and planning of each sprint. Chickens should definitely attend sprint reviews.

Chickens can attend daily Scrums but they have to stand on the periphery. They are not active participants, they can’t interfere with the meeting in any way; this includes talking, gesticulating or making noise. If they have questions or issues to raise, they can approach the ScrumMaster either before or after the daily Scrum meeting. At the end of the daily Scrum, the ScrumMaster may facilitate small breakout discussions that include the chickens; but these sessions must be aligned with the current sprint or part of the very limited time allocated within the sprint for “other stuff”.

Pig Roles (people who are assigned work and accountable for sprint deliverables)
Product Owner
Scrum Team

Within the Scrum process, pigs are the people who will make the final decision for their tasks.

Chicken Roles (people who are interested, but are not accountable for sprint deliverables)
Consulting Experts

Since the chickens might be very vocal if they don’t feel included in the Scrum process, the pigs must find ways to keep them involved all along the project.

Pigs and chickens living together in harmony!
Although these two animals have roles and responsibilities that are very different, at the end of the day it’s about creating synergies between these two. There are a few concerns that can emerge from this relationship; here are the most common ones:

How to leverage the experience or knowledge of chickens?
The ideal way is to assure that the pigs actively seek feedback as needed from the chickens. By having the pigs consistently initiate the process to gather input from the chickens it will help build a long term and trusting relationship.

How to protect the rights of pigs?
Once the “What” has been understood by the pigs, the “How” must be left for the pigs to figure out (while keeping the communication open with the chickens throughout the process). The pigs are not only committed but also experts in delivering solutions. This goes back to the old adage about chickens (business users) not presenting solutions in search of a problem, but focusing on the real problem or need and letting the pigs think and propose the right solution.