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Stephen Palmer
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I understand where David is coming from and at one level, I completely agree. Looking at an organization as a whole, you obviously want everyone working together as committed as possible to achieving that organization's objectives. When you zoom in on particular activities, the situation is a little different. For each distinct activity, there will be people who directly contribute to the outputs of that activity. There will be others that contribute indirectly, and others that do not contribute at all but may still be interested in the output produced. At this level, the chicken/pig distinction does make sense to me. It means people contributing indirectly and those simply interested in the output communicate with those producing the output at well-defined points in the process. To use another analogy, we know that the best way for client software to communicate with server software is via a well-defined interface. Similarly, the best way for clients of a team to communicate with the team is through the ‘interface’ defined in the process. In addition, at this level of abstraction, people (actually roles played by people) should not simply be labeled pigs and chickens. That is to misunderstand and misuse the metaphor, and David is right to push back against it. A person in a particular role is a pig or chicken in relation to a specific activity. Scrum and eXtreme Programming focus on the working of a single small development team and the ways they interface with requirement and project management. In this context, it is understandable that the developer role is more frequently a pig than chickens. Widening the context, the developer role is unlikely to be a pig in activities such as setting business objectives, for example. There is an ‘us and them’ situation that often needs managing during a transformation between those in initial projects using the ‘new way’ and those still working to the ‘old way’. The ‘new way’ teams can become elitist and, some managers will actively encourage that for a time in the hope it will inspire others to want to join the elite, and so propagate the transformation. This, however, is not an appropriate application of the pig and chicken metaphor. So in conclusion, viewing an organization from a distance, everyone should look like a pig but zooming in you have the surreal image of people metamorphosing from pigs into chickens and back again as they perform different activities in different roles. Personally, I think for a process that takes its name from the game of rugby, Scrum would do better to follow through on the analogy of players, coaches, team owners, fans, etc than to mix metaphors by introducing farm animals via a very tired and not even particularly funny joke.
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Unofficial rumors as to the demise of my product backlog session at Agile 2009 were exaggerated. It has been accepted after all. Apologizes for the miscommunication.
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