Scrum Meeting — Who are the Pigs and Chickens

Scrum is an iterative framework to help teams manage and progress through a complex project.  It is most commonly used in Software Development by teams that implement the Agile Software Development methodology.  However it is not limited to those groups.  Even if your team does not implement Agile Software Development, you cans till benefit from holding regular scrums with your teams.

An effective scrum is comprised of several different roles.  However in today’s post I want to focus on the roles of the Chickens and the Pigs.  To help us demonstrate this let’s look at the following cartoon provided by our friends over at implementingscrum.com

Scrum Pigs and Chickens

 

This cartoon illustrates two potential business partners, the chicken and the pig.  They want to start a restaurant together called Ham n Eggs.  The pig however is not convinced since he would have to be fully committed to the idea, providing himself as the main course, while the chicken only has to just participate with it’s eggs.

Scrum participants fall into the same two categories.  They are either Pigs or they are chickens.  Participants at scrum are either fully committed to the project or simply participants.  Let’s look at who these various roles really are.

Pig Roles

  • Actual Team Members.  These would be the developers, artists or product managers that comprise the core of the team.  These are the people who are actually doing the daily work to bring the project to fruition.  These members are fully committed to the project.
  • Scrum Master.  The scrum master might be one of the team members — or might not be.  It is important to call this person out separately here though because the Scrum master has the primary role of ensuring that the scrum moves forward without problems and is effective for the team.
  • Project Owner.  This may be a Product Manager who is also comprised of the team or it may not.  Again it is important to call this persons role out here as this person represents the voice of the end customer.  This person needs to ensure that the product achieves it’s product goals and provides the necessary end product to the customers.

Chicken Roles

  • Managers.  At first glance you might think that managers are pigs — naturally.  However in the scrum context managers are generally more concerned about the people involved in a project and their respective health.  They are not as focused on the product and it’s particular customer oriented goals.  For this reason they are considered a chicken in the scrum context.
  • Stakeholders.  Stakeholders are individuals who will benefit or have a vested interest in the project, however do not necessarily have authority to dictate direction or to be held accountable for the product.  They can be consulted for opinions and insight however the product owner needs to maintain final rights for the decision making process.

Why are the roles important

The chicken and pig roles are vital to scrum because it dictates who in the scrum should be an active participant   Chickens should not be active participants in a scrum meeting.  They may attend, however they should be there as guests only and not required to share their current statuses.  Pigs on the other hand need to share their current progress and share any blockers that they are encountering.

The reason that Chickens should not be active participants is that they too easily will take over the direction of the scrum and lead it away from the goals of the entire team.  it is the scrum masters job to ensure that the scrum stays on target and covers the topics that need to be covered.  if someone goes off topic (chicken or pig) it is the scrum masters job to bring the group back to the topic at hand.

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