The Chicken and the Pig

June 26, 2010

The fable of The Chicken and the Pig is about commitment to a project or cause.

The Story

The Chicken and the Pig were passing a church on a country road, where they saw a sign reading “Charity meals for the poor, please contribute.” Says the Chicken to the Pig “Sounds like a worthy cause, let’s contribute a ham-and-egg breakfast.” Responds the Pig, thoughtfully, “Madam, for you that would be contribution, for me a total commitment.”

Interpretation and lessons

This fable is commonly referenced in the Agile software development community to to illustrate two types of project members: pigs, who are totally committed to the project and accountable for its outcome, and chickens, who consult on the project and are informed of its progress. By extension, a rooster can be defined as a person who struts around offering uninformed, unhelpful opinions.

A successful project needs both chickens and pigs (roosters are seen as unproductive). However, given the sacrifice required of being a pig — foreswearing other projects and opportunities – they can be difficult to collect. Thus, the construction of a successful project-team must ensure that the project has sufficient “pigs” – and ensure that they are empowered to drive the project in return for committing to and taking accountability for it.

External links

Epilogue

I originally posted this to Wikipedia. Over time, other contributors changed it, watering down my voice — and, in my biased opinion, the punch of the original. I love Wikipedia, it’s a phenomenal resource for mankind. But this experience illustrates the value of individual voice. The future of media has yet to be written…

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One Response to “The Chicken and the Pig”

  1. Ellen Says:

    I totally agree on all counts, of course. It’s both tough and rewarding to be a pig. And it’s hard to keep the definition as fully responsible and accountable intact.


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