Chickens, Pigs, and Really Inappropriate Terminology

I’ve read many times that words DO hurt, especially in racial/religious discrimination. Being called a “chicken” in a meeting and being told to shut up changes my attitude from cooperative to hostile (in later contacts). “Deliverable producer” is better for the stakeholders, though a single word would be better than the 2 words. “Stakeholder” is too general for my tastes as every stockholder in the company is a stakeholder. And to my American ear, “scrum” sounds like “scruffy bum” or “crumb”. Simply make a rule that in the daily short meeting people may only speak if they are producing the document being discussed.

Jon Galloway said: “Developers (myself included) are terrible at naming things.”

If that’s true, we’re sunk! One of a developer’s most important skills is the naming of names. Presumably, the person who thought up pigs and chickens didn’t have the wit to choose a word like “Observer”. I dread to think what their code looks like.

Some years back, a friend was invited to Microsoft at the tail end of a round of job interviews. He got to meet everyone who would be on his “team” and speak with them a little about the project. Almost to a man (women, too), each claimed that 80% of the code was being produced by themselves and it would be a welcome relief to have another “productive” person on the team.

Hmmm, my limited math background tells me that something is not right here.

The ScrumMaster is a pig, and the designated grenade jumper.

Every product needs an obvious wart for the world to bike-shed over so the rest of the world can make the important decisions. Well done, Scrum.

i am a pig i don’t get murdered

All I can say is I love bacon egg sarnies and I ain’t about to turn vegetarian! :slight_smile:

I’m of the opposite opinion here. I like the pigs and chickens nomenclature. I like Scrum. Why?

Because they make otherwise jaded people sit up and take notice when they are introduced to yet another project management methodology/toolset/whatever. You start calling them barnyard animals and the momentary indignation wakes them up from whatever stupor of thought they’re in. If they stay mad, do they really belong on the team? Isn’t it better to get them off the team before they start getting paranoid about their inability to contribute anything useful getting them kicked off the team?

These terms get people out of their comfort zones and stops them from taking themselves so seriously. And that is the root of the problem. People who take themselves too seriously are the same ones who stand up and pontificate for hours on end in useless meetings that produce nothing of value for anyone.

Call him a chicken, tell him to sit down, and let the pigs get back to the real business of finishing the project. Do it in a good-humored way and people will warm to it, even develop a sense of humor.

Political correctness solves nothing.

An Italian friend of mine who is a Scrum consultant particularly dislikes these terms. In his words:

“In Italian, a chicken is an idiot and a pig is a sexual pervert”


I’ve said the same thing about the names of programming languages. Gee, boss, I think think we should do this project in Boo. No, seriously…

Developers (myself included) are terrible at naming things.

I very much see the point, though. I’m regularly involved in meetings (and have been over the past five or so years that I’ve been a dev lead) in which the “eavesdroppers” outnumbered those doing actual work by eight to one. It wouldn’t be so bad if they were just evesdroppers, but just about any random meeting attendee can derail a meeting, and those with no vested interest in a productive meeting seem to love to derail it just to “make their mark”. Stupid Pigs! Oops, I mean, Stupid Chickens!

Chickens and pigs are just a story used to illustrate a point - only those committed to the outcome of the Sprint have a say. The rest of the people are just observers who get their say at the Sprint Review.

Scrum is very deliberate in it renaming of well-understood (or accepteed) terms, starting with the term ScrumMaster. From my understanding, Scrum renames everything in order to help people change their perspective and see how they have a different role. Scrum used the name “ScrumMaster” to describe what most people would call a “project manager”. Why? To highlight that the ScrumMaster has no authority over the team and does not have the traditional role of project manager. The easiest way to get people to think about their role is to give it a new name.

Another term renamed is “Daily Scrum” for what most people call a “status meeting”, except the Daily Scrum is not a status meeting. The Daily Scrum is a way for the self-organizing team to align themselves with each other’s progress and raise obstacles all in less than 15 minutes. Renaming the meeting to Daily Scrum highlights how the meeting is different.

Personally, I like the terms “Fowards” and “Backs”, since I can never tell that chicken and pig story right.

You forgot about the role of the butcher.

The role of butcher is to cut off the heads of the chickens and watch them wander around haplessly until they slump lifeless to the ground.

The butcher carves up the pigs making nice porkchops and delicious sides of bacon.

What role does the butcher play in your daily scrum meetings? Do you have 1 or more butchers in your scrum meetings?

I don’t see what the big deal is -it’s an innocuous metaphor. First time I heard the chicken and pig story I thought it was funny and it made the point very well.

Being upset or at all bothered by this kind of thing is a waste of time any energy. Yes, words mean things and there are some words and terminology in this world we should be more careful with. Chicken, pig, and ScrumMaster are not those kinds of words.

Lighten up.

Project manager != ScrumMaster.

And for that reason alone, I can’t take the rest of the post seriously.

I never heard about chickens and pigs within an agile team but only about stakeholders.
I would say all team members are committed in the same way. It is only those team externals who are more or less involved into an increment (or several increments).