Are you a Chicken or a Pig?
Well as unhelpful questions go, this ranks high.
It didn't start out that way for me, as a newbie Scrum Master (newbie Master, now that’s another story!), I loved to share the Chicken and the Pig story.
The point I was trying to make with the Scrum Team, is that we are the pigs, we are committed and had all the skin in the game. Everyone else, the chickens, well they are just involved, interested. It’s us versus them and I am on the wall protecting you!
Whilst a light story and was fun to share and keep coming back to, ‘Are you a Chicken or a Pig?’ at various times, like, hey this ceremony is for Pigs only, excuse me, but only Pigs get to estimate, yes but I am a Pig, so it’s my decision.
Truth is, I got it all wrong for a while and once I worked that out, life got better for me and all the animals on the farm, pigs, chickens, cows, ducks, hippos (funny farm I know, but HiPPOs are everywhere, now that’s another story!).
As I had misused this wee tale and the interpretation backfired on me, I now steer clear of it’s use, except when telling this tale, which has a much happier ending!
Confused, well I certainly was, so let me dispense some clarity about what I quickly learnt from the mistakes I made back in the day.
In my new role as a Scrum Master, I took the mantle of servant leader and protecting the team very seriously. Maybe my naive way of wanting to change and challenge ‘the establishment’. The pendulum was perhaps a tad too far in one direction and not in a helpful way reflecting back. Two issues here really.
Firstly, I was viewing the Team as the developers only, whereas, in truth, the Team is the dev team, product owner and Scrum master. Thankfully and easier to remember, we are ALL Pigs! So my mental model of the dev team only being the Pigs and wanting to go to bat for them 100+%, whilst sometimes appropriate, meant a divide to the product owner and even myself was formed.
Secondly, all those chickens clucking around, well for the most part are doing valuable stuff also, it’s most likely (and it was) that we are all part of a larger system and working together within and beyond the team is also important.
If we need to deliver ham and eggs, then ham along won’t cut it!
It’s quite possible, we may even scale our restaurant and start selling BBQ’d chicken wings! Talking organic scaling of course.
All along the answer was waiting for me in the Scrum Guide:
The Scrum Master is a servant-leader for the Scrum Team. The Scrum Master helps those outside the Scrum Team understand which of their interactions with the Scrum Team are helpful and which aren’t. The Scrum Master helps everyone change these interactions to maximize the value created by the Scrum Team.
The Scrum Team consists of a Product Owner, the Development Team, and a Scrum Master.
Removing impediments to the Development Team’s progress;
In time and quickly, I learnt to embrace the true spirit of agile and such misinterpretations or approaches on my part were not helpful for anyone in the long run.
Thinking about the entire system, being respectful of where people are (as a human and in the system), collaborating, facilitating, coaching and challenging constructively, achieve better outcomes, especially when making forays into reinventing organisations and the future of work. (evolutionary/looping change, now there’s another story or two!)
‘Great teams’ I have worked with or observed, the product owner and dev team are united.
‘Great organisations’ I have worked with or observed, ‘great teams’ work together with a shared purpose and leadership enable, understand and support that capability in it’s entirety.
It’s up to us as individuals to make that happen. ‘Great individuals’, ‘great leaders’, ‘great teams’, ‘great organisations’.
Key Takeaways, apart from Ham n Eggs with a side of wings to go! 🐷🐔
- The Scrum Team includes the Product Owner, Dev Team and Scrum Master.
- Collaboration and working together to create value must extend beyond the Scrum Team.
- Stories about ‘the newbie Master’, ‘HiPPOs’ and ‘Reinventing Work’ to come another day.
In the end, one of the agile principles promoting sustainability…
Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely
is a better business model for everyone on the farm!
Just to prove that in the end, nothing is impossible or as my Dad used to say to me ‘impossible is nothing’ — The Chicken and Pig opened up in my home town of Adelaide a little while back: https://www.chickenandpig.com.au/, it’s delish!