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21 July 2009

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David Harvey

Hi Rachel - Nice post. Language is important, and I've always found the chicken/pigs thing unhelpful. The joke has a certain "hookiness" to it which perhaps goes some way to explaining the metaphor's unfortunate persistence. In any case, whether intended or not it seems to give permission for Scrum teams to disdain other parts of their organisations, which very quickly spoils the chances of real conversations taking place.

Lynn Grant

The pigs-and-chickens joke was pretty old many years before it became a foundation of SCRUM. But it has a couple of problems in addition to that. As was mentioned, it is somewhat dehumanizing calling people animal names. And in a multicultural world, you have both the issue of people who may take offense at being called pigs, or just won't get the point because the joke doesn't translate well.

But an equally important problem is that it minimizes the efforts of stakeholders who may be equally committed to the success of the project, even though they don't have a say in the day-to-day operation of the team. A examples would be management who protects and insulates the team from higher-level management who may not be sold on SCRUM/Agile yet. To say that they are just involved, when they may be betting their job on the success of the project, seems like a bit of an insult.

Robinhood

It is a good article. I recently experienced similar experience during my sprint retrospective. Amongst many thing, one of the team member who (probably) read books about SCRUM made all sorts of comment about person 'A' should and should not do this. It created a toxic environment for a little while until we addressed the situation personally between those two and explain why it is unhealthy.

My personal feeling is we should not get hung up about whether the team member is 'Pig' or 'Chicken'. To be honest there are so many ways of making this distiction i.e. for simplicity sake we can just say Scrum Team. But we still keep banging on about this old story. I would be quite cautious to use this analogy in 'Muslim' countries where pigs are not considered to be 'pure' animals and forbidden to even touch them.

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