Monday, March 19, 2012

Chickens with a Pig Complex?

Famously, scrum has used an old joke to explain two kinds of participants in development work. Pigs and chickens is a reference to having bacon and eggs for breakfast; the chicken is involved (donates an egg), but the pig is committed (gives his all).  In scrum, this translates to stakeholders (chickens) and material participants (pigs).

It always seemed funny that people who are on the hook to pay for the work are chickens and those who are paid whether or not the product succeeds are pigs. Still, I appreciate calling out the idea of advisors and stakeholders v. material participants.

I wonder sometimes about those roles for people who are not primary stakeholders, yet are somewhat involved in the development, but primarily act to give permission or to grant or withhold resources.
Are those chickens with a pig complex? Pigs with chicken complex? Porklucken?
  1. Non-coding architects who must approve designs
  2. Sysadmin/IT who controls the team's computing resources
  3. External UX designers who control the look-and-feel of the application
  4. Stakeholders who micromanage or create back-channels to push conflicting goals on development teams
I am the kind of coach who believes in inviting people into the house, not shutting them out.  My strong preference is that people who want to participate materially should be brought into the team (as co-equal "pigs"). I am not one for hierarchy getting in the way of progress. I don't care for people sniping from the sidelines, hamstringing hardworking teams, or participating only in terms of holding a veto. I like to see people engage or make room.

Do you deal with odd semi-participants? Have any stories or tricks you'd like to share? 

Images from Pigs and chickens free coloring page!


  1. It's the predispositions you mention above (and others) that led Schwaber & Sutherland to remove the Pigs & Chickens references from the latest iteration of the Scrum Guide.

  2. Chris:

    Yes, and Jeff and I have also campaigned against the pigs/chickens terminology. See

    In all fairness, it was a convenient hook for the more interesting question about people having approval or the ability to stop progress in other ways without really "having skin in the game."