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The Classic Story of the Chicken and the Pig | David Tzemach

Updated: Mar 3, 2022

As we have seen, a Scrum team contains different stakeholders: the development team, Scrum Master, and Product Owner. Each of these has an essential role to play in creating a successful team. However, the team is just one part of a giant machine containing other (external) stakeholders such as senior management, project managers, and customers.

To best fill their role as active participants, external stakeholders must know when it is their turn to participate, listen and contribute to the feedback cycles that the team generates as part of their growth. To point out the difference between stakeholders that have a "commitment" and those who are just involved in the process, I will use the old story of the chicken and the pig.

The story goes like this:

A pig and a chicken were walking down the road. As they passed a church, they noticed that a potluck charity breakfast was underway. Caught up in the spirit, the pig suggested to the chicken that they each make a contribution.

“Great Idea!” the chicken cried. “Let’s offer them ham and eggs!”

“Not so fast.” said the pig. “For you, that’s just a contribution, but for me, it’s a total commitment.”

You should think about this story in every situation that may have a negative impact on the team and ask the fundamental question of "Who is the chicken and who is the pig?"

A chicken is a stakeholder that does not have direct responsibility for the teamwork but still benefits from the pig's work. Chickens are listeners that do not contribute to the day-to-day effort of getting things done (they do not participate in team activities).

Pigs are the core team members that are genuinely committed to the process; they participate in the day-to-day activities of the development process and have direct responsibility for the deliverables.

Let's take the product backlog as an example. Although the entire team is responsible for maintaining the product, the PO is the one who is accountable to ensure that the product backlog is prioritized and ready for the team development cycles. So, in this case, the Product Owner will be categorized as the pig and the rest of the team as chickens.

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