Love for Pigs and Chickens

A phrase frequently used in the Scrum teams I’ve been involved in – as well as a few of the XP teams – is “Pigs and Chickens”.

Googling the origin, I found out where it came from. Like many terms and practices in Agile Software Development, it’s surrounded by controversy.

I have come to love the phrase, mostly because it causes people who are unfamiliar with Agile and Scrum practices to ask, “What are pigs and chickens?”

When the Agile team members smile and happily explain the joke, the people asking the questions often remember that they have other questions they wanted to ask, too. Then they find out that most Agile teams are full of real human beings who love to talk about what they’re doing and share good practices. This in turn invites more conversation, which spreads the goodness.

That leads to requests like, “Liz, I’d love to see what the team are doing with <xyz>. Can I turn up at your meeting, please, just as a chicken?”

Anything which facilitates better communication – even by being an obscure hook that invites curiosity – has got to be good.

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4 Responses to Love for Pigs and Chickens

  1. Nick Bailey says:

    Hi Liz. Yeah this is a great phrase. I remember my own bemused curiosity at hearing it…Anything that makes people curious and gets a vibe of open communication is great…of course an inside joke can potentially make people feel excluded, but I know from being coached by you that you make it very easy to ask questions. I’ve just finished my second ever professional blog entry! It’s about how trust influences people in teams (and I used your recap technique at the end šŸ™‚

  2. Dave Kirby says:

    The problem I have with the phrase is that it is culturally insensitive. If you tried using this terminology in a muslim country, you may find your development staff walking out since calling someone a pig is the worst insult possible to a muslim. This probably goes for some orthodox jews too.

  3. liz says:

    I would hope that rather than walking out, they might instead have a conversation which could only lead to people being educated in aforementioned cultural sensitivity. Maybe then we could come up with an alternative, and the team will understand (and hopefully be forgiving of) the terms used around other communities.

  4. liz says:

    (Surely walking out because you find someone else’s culture insulting is itself a form of cultural insensitivity too?)

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