If you’re not familiar with the concept of Chickens and Pigs, it’s based on an old joke in which a chicken and a pig set up a restaurant. The chicken wants to call it “Ham’n'Eggs”. The pig says, “No thanks. I’d be committed, but you’d only be involved.”
The story is used in Scrum and other methodologies to suggest that only “pigs” – the people whose bacon is on the line – should have the right to speak in stand-ups. This deliberately excludes management.
Yesterday, Dean Leffingwell spoke on the subject at Agile 2011. He pointed out that the practice calls out the chickens as the “bad guys”. “Wrong!” he says. “These are the people who run the company.” Quite aside from some cultural implications of calling people “pigs” – it doesn’t go down well in countries which consider pigs to be unclean, for instance – excluding management from stand-ups can be disrespectful at best, and damaging at worst.
I finally decided to be done with the Chicken and Pigs analogy and practice after a roleplay organised by Derek Wade, in which the manager had something very important to share – something that would have reduced the stress the team was experiencing, as well as the workload, the weekend’s overtime, and the risk to delivery that was approaching our fictitious team.
The manager started to speak. “I…”
“You’re a chicken,” the Scrum Master announced. “Next!”