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!

My name is Michael Vizdos and I am the creator of ImplementingScrum.com.  This is the inaugural cartoon.

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. My friend (and super awesome person!) 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 the 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.

If you’d like to learn more about me (Michael Vizdos), please visit MichaelVizdos.com.

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. I am a pig. Always will be. The beauty about being a pig is the amount of things we learn. Although I despise the fact that I always do the work, I’m happy about the results. Unfair but being realistic.

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