The Classic Story of the Pig and Chicken


www.implementingscrum.com -- Cartoon -- September 11, 2006 - Scrum - This is the classic story of the Pig and Chicken metaphor in an Agile Software Development Project Management Technique

View a translated version here — now available in 10+ other languages!

Welcome to the inaugural cartoon on www.implementingscrum.com.

Since the original publication of this cartoon series (starting September 11, 2006) I have made a few updates to the content of this page.Nothing has materially changed since we started the series; if anything, I hope it adds clarification to the overall content! This story is the first in an ongoing series to help explain what Scrum “is.”

And.

What Scrum “is not.”

Will we get it correct all the time?

Probably not. And that is OK. The plan is for all of us to learn.

Your comments are always welcome.

So, why are we using a Chicken and Pig? The story depicted above, as weird as it is, helps me — and others — explain two of the main types of people in Scrum.

I am amazed that the Human Resource Departments of many companies I consult with have not shut down this example; it is probably only a matter of time. This is still the best example I know of to explain the roles, and this is what our cartoon series reflects.

The basic premise of the Chicken and the Pig can be seen from the cartoon example above.

Here is an easy definition of the Chickens versus Pigs.

A Pig is someone who has skin in the game. Mike Cohn aptly refers to the people in that role as, “Having their Bacon on the line.”

Pig roles are considered core team members. Performers. People who “do” work.

Get it?

I would consider the roles of both Product Owner and the ScrumMaster to be pigs on a team.

A Chicken is someone who has something to gain by the Pigs performing, but in the end, really do not contribute day to day to “getting things done.” Their “eggs” are a renewable resource, and many get laid (eggs that is).

I get asked the following question by many people when starting to use Scrum:

“Can I be a Pig and Chicken at the same time?”

No.

You cannot be a Pig and a Chicken at the same time.

This is something I work with middle managers who struggle with this on a daily basis. The concept takes coaching, and constant [gentle] reminders that they cannot be a Pig/Chicken. I call this a Pigkin… and it is something you do not want to see in any organization!

A video commentary of this cartoon can be viewed here (it was posted February 16, 2008):

Meet the rest of our cast in this series!

We will examine this and other issues in this series, as this is fun to see happen (sometimes sad WHILE it is happening, but funny to imagine).

I do hope the simplicity of the cartoon above gets the point across. Remember it. It will serve us well in the journey ahead.

Please send comments, questions, criticisms, ideas, or whatever here. You can also enter The Scrum Community to discuss this cartoon and other Scrum topics.

Thank you!


Originally Published:
September 11, 2006
Updated:
May 1, 200
October 23, 2007
February 16, 2008 (with Video)
More:
November 29, 2006


Comments

  1. Did you see today’s Dilbert?

    :)

  2. Let me know if I can add any information to your site as I have started many small businesses. And am currently running one!

  3. I love your son’s explanation. Very cute!

  4. I have a translated version of Chinese(traditional) in my website.
    I like this story.
    Thank you for sharing.

  5. I like how your son put it. Check out the http://www.scrumedge.com logo.

  6. I am not endorsing this product — just wanted to say that logo is pretty cool :) . Nice job!

  7. Taridzo says:

    I dont know what you think, but i would not call the role of the product owner “pig”. The product owner has his role during planning, but once a commitment to the goal is made, it’s up to the team to deliver. PO attends daily scrums only as an observer. The team is a definitely commited pig.

  8. Hmm…. I’d consider them a “pig” in that good ones are involved *daily* with the team to make minor course corrections and not have any surprises from the rest of the team :) .

  9. This is one of the most distasteful, divisive, and inaccurate stories in the world of software development. In most organizations, the only person putting the ability to feed their family on the line is the Product Owner or the Executive Sponsor of the project.

    We pretend Agile is about Trust, and then we promote Chickens and Pigs as the very first story assuring we are establishing a low trust relationship with management. Are you kidding me? Is this really something we want to continue to promote – that we feel the developers are the only ones with anything on the line in spending the companies money trying to deliver value to our customers.

    Dennis Stevens

  10. Hi,

    I appreciate the comment and understand that some people do not like this analogy. I specifically use this analogy to show the conversations between Team Members, Product Owners, and ScrumMasters are difficult. I am using this cartoon series (around for almost 4 years with almost 100 cartoons published) to help *start* those conversations. Like the analogy or not, well, it is here to stay and I will continue to use it so that we can all have tough conversations — thus improving things for all of us!

  11. Lori Hoover says:

    May have permission to reprint the cartoon in a “Neighborhood Matters” article I am writing for a local organization? I am using this to illustrate the absentee landlord problem in our area. Thank you.

  12. Sure, go ahead and please just retain the copyright and other attributions on the cartoon when you use it. If it is online, please link back to the original source here!

  13. This looks like some great information (and is very timely for a team I am currently working with today). It helps to hear this information from people who do this [design] for a living and validates what I am teaching and coaching teams to do. I am *not* the design expert and am happy to see this being applied in the real world with teams like yours too! Thank you for the link to the cartoon.

    - mike vizdos

  14. Atul Kumthekar says:

    May I have permission to use this cartoon in SCRUM presentation. I am preparing this presentation to give SCRUM training to new joined emplyoees in my organization.

  15. The notion of pig and chicken helps weed out noise during execution and tends to provide a open safe environment for the execution teams to execute on the task at hand.
    On a different front .. in planning and designing the porduct the staheholders change. Thge product owner with the strategy and architecture play with product ideas to create that same impact in discovery phase without execution noise.
    So looking at this just from one angle undermines the value this picture conveys.. the pigs and chickens are goign to be different in different circumstances.
    Try to use the calculation of who can provide value to achieve the meeting objective by the end of the meeting and you can arrive and weed out the noise pretty quick to identify the chickens for that goal.
    Hope that helps provide a different perspective on this and calms the angst :)

  16. This is good information and I appreciate the feedback on this topic. It’s evolved so much since I started the conversation so many years ago with this comic strip!

    Thank you.

    - mike vizdos

Trackbacks

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  3. [...] All others are parties are called chickens, referring to the fact that they are involved, but not committed. For those of you not familiar with the joke, click here to see the original pig and chicken cartoon. [...]

  4. [...] All others are parties are called chickens, referring to the fact that they are involved, but not committed. For those of you not familiar with the joke, click here to see the original pig and chicken cartoon. [...]

  5. [...] The people, who do the work usually know best, how much effort it requires. However, the same people usually calculate a buffer, sometimes even without knowing it. So, estimates need to be challenged. This should be done by asking for a team estimate, e.g. in a Product Backlog Grooming Meeting or in a Sprint Planning Meeting. In Scrum, the estimate is done by Pigs, not by Chickens. [...]

  6. [...] worked with Agile teams starting back in 2002, my personal experience is that, the mindset of the pigs on the team is a key differentiation between the success or failure of the [...]

  7. [...] uma tirinha criada pelo site implementingscrum.com (e traduzida pelo Leonardo Dantas) que explica a origem dos [...]

  8. [...] Meer gedetailleerde uitleg over de veranderingen Artikel ‘The New New Product Development Game’ Stripverhaal over ‘Chicken and Pig’ WikiPedia over ‘Chicken and Pig’ Voel je vrij om commentaar te leveren op de nieuwe nieuwe [...]

  9. [...] den Punkt: Sind Sie committed oder nur beteiligt? Der referenzierte Klassiker dazu findet sich auf Implementing Scrum: Als Projektgeschichte verpackt findet man die Story übrigens sehr schön im [...]

  10. [...] nueva versión es 100% SCRUMABLE. A Ken Schwaber se le ocurrió sacar la historia de Chickens and Pigs en la última revisión y metió un par de cambios que no comparto, pero la filosofía bajo SCRUM [...]

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  14. [...] Scrum Master on scrum.org. Follow @kschwaber (Ken Schwaber on twitter) Related links, The Classic Story of the Pig and Chicken Microsoft’s Process Templates and Tools Do you use printed ‘SSW Story Cards’ [...]

  15. [...] funktionieren und nicht nur auf dem Papier gut aussehen: Dieser absolute Klassiker aus dem Blog Implementing Scrum zeigt aus meiner Sicht eines der Erfolgskriterien für Vermittlungstätigkeiten, die einen Wert [...]

  16. [...] soyez agiles, et soyez aussi impliqués que les PIGs ! Engagez-vous dans la gestion de votre dette, et ne vous laissez pas déborder [...]

  17. [...] parler de l’histoire de la poule et du cochon, que je n’expliquerai pas içi (voir la poule et le cochon). L’histoire exprime la différence entre “engagement” et [...]

  18. [...] – The Silver Bullet [NOT] « « Previous Post | Tell a Friend! | Share on Twitter | Next Post » [...]

  19. [...] comes the story of the Pig and Chicken. For a refresher read here. Go read it and come back. I promise I will not go anywhere… just come back real fast. I am [...]

  20. [...] we introduce the role of Product Owner. Not necessarily a Pig, and not quite a Chicken. And, as we have covered in the past, definitely not a [...]

  21. [...] Senior Chicken meets someone on a plane or hears about it at a [...]

  22. [...] How artfully agile. I can see this term starting to get abused (as our intrepid Chicken above has shown!), just like the attempted “branding” of the word Agile, Agile 2.0, Web [...]

  23. [...] using Agile. That is, having to commit to something. Ouch. This is hard, especially if some Chicken in the past has held their cajones over the fire about past dates being [...]

  24. [...] maioria dos praticantes de Scrum já viu a tira sobre o porco e a galinha. Para quem não viu, basicamente a galinha convida o porco para abrir um restaurante: ovos [...]

  25. [...] yes, Product Owner and ScrumMaster – both are pig roles. Refer to Chicken and Pig Story to know more about [...]

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  27. [...] do cartoon: The Classic Story of the Pig and Chicken Comentários Em: Processo de Trabalho Tags: keep-it-simple, scrum Pesquisar [...]

  28. [...] to the classic story of the Pig & Chicken often used in Agile circles, Engineering Managers are usually “chickens,” (unless they are also [...]

  29. [...] open to anyone in the company…but as observers only…for those of you familiar with the chicken and pig story, remember, these observers are chickens and as such, should stay silent in this [...]

  30. [...] every Scrum practitioner knows the story of the Chicken and Pig. With time you learn that some practitioners adopt a Picken and Chig behaviour. Here are some clues [...]

  31. [...] Read more on the chicken and the pig on implementingscrum.com This entry was posted in blog and tagged account manager, advertising, agile, chicken, pig, product owner, scrum, scrummaster, team by Bart Vermijlen. Bookmark the permalink. [...]

  32. [...] Ken Schwaberille Suomen tuliaisina Angry Birds -pehmoleluja liittyen Scrumin perinteiseen Chickens & Pigs -tarinaan, josta on onneksi pitkälti luovuttu turhan vastakkainasettelun vähentämiseksi. [...]

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  36. [...] me; others have used it to describe everything from investing in startups to successfully managing product development to a 2008 appearance in [...]

  37. [...] me; others have used it to describe everything from investing in startups to successfully managing product development to a 2008 appearance in [...]

  38. [...] me; others have used it to describe everything from investing in startups to successfully managing product development to a 2008 appearance in [...]

  39. [...] it “right” and don’t allow outside observers to participate.  Remember the chicken and pig scenario.  Only “pigs” get to participate.  This is their time, if someone wants to say [...]

  40. [...] a week, cfr infra) where only the pigs are allowed to speak (the chickens have to remain silent – you can find the story of the chicken and the pig by clicking on this link) and where the status is given without any filter by the team members themselves to the other team [...]

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  44. [...] check-ins, accountability and, last but not least, the chickens vs. the pigs (often it’s just the chickens vs. pigs for some reason). While these artifacts and activities are important, the core brilliance of Agile [...]

  45. [...] key to a unified team is bringing everybody together under the Agile umbrella. In Agile, there are chickens and there are pigs. Everybody in your team, regardless of their discipline are pigs (i.e. they are committed). [...]

  46. [...] the only people who really know what needs to be done, are more involved in the project (serving as Pigs rather than just Chickens, if you [...]

  47. [...] og Pig metaforen, som alle der praktiserer agil udvikling kender – resten kan læse om den her – har medvirket til en primitiv og vulgær fortolkning af dette. Jeg har flere gange oplevet [...]

  48. [...] been pretty “dark” here since August of 2102.  That’s over a year.  Yikes. The original comic strip went up in 2006 and Tony (the illustrator) is no longer on this project (he is doing AWESOME things [...]

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