The Chicken and the Pig
The fable of The Chicken and the Pig is about commitment to a project or cause. When producing a dish made of ham and eggs, the pig provides the ham which requires his sacrifice and the chicken provides the eggs which are not difficult to produce. Thus the pig is really committed in that dish while the chicken is only involved, yet both are needed to produce the dish.
- A Pig and a Chicken are walking down the road.
- The Chicken says: "Hey Pig, I was thinking we should open a restaurant!"
- Pig replies: "Hm, maybe, what would we call it?"
- The Chicken responds: "How about 'ham-n-eggs'?"
- The Pig thinks for a moment and says: "No thanks. I'd be committed, but you'd only be involved!"
Sometimes, the story is presented as a riddle:
- Question: In a bacon-and-egg breakfast, what's the difference between the Chicken and the Pig?
- Answer: The Chicken is involved, but the Pig is committed!
Interpretation and lessons
Agile project management
The fable is referenced to define two types of project members by the scrum agile management system: 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 or gamecock, can be defined as a person who struts around offering uninformed, unhelpful opinions. This analogy is based upon the pig being able to provide bacon (a sacrificial offering, for which the pig must die in order to provide) versus a chicken which provides eggs (non-sacrificial).
A successful project needs both chickens and pigs (roosters are seen as unproductive). However, given the sacrifice required of being a pig—forswearing 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 that they are empowered to drive the project in return for committing to and taking accountability for it.
For a Scrum project, Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Team are considered as people who are committed to the project while customers and executive management are considered as involved but not committed to the project.
The fable also is used as an analogy for levels of commitment to a game, team etc. For example, variations of this quote have been attributed to football coach Mike Leach:
- On the officials in the 2007 Tech-Texas game in Austin:
- "It's a little like breakfast; you eat ham and eggs. As coaches and players, we're like the ham. You see, the chicken's involved but the pig's committed. We're like the pig, they're like the chicken. They're involved, but everything we have rides on this."
In 1985, Brian Gould used this fable in a welcome/breakfast address to launch a conference for insurance executives, hosted by John Hancock in Bryn Mawr, PA. It was used as an analogy for John Hancock's commitment to its policyholders and to the meeting attendees, who were business partners.
- Pupek, Daniel (date unknown). Chicken and Pig Make Breakfast. Retold in the blog of "The Agile Jedi". Retrieved from http://www.agilejedi.com/chickenandpig.
- C. P. PURI (2009), Agile Management: Feature Driven Development, Global India Publications
- Leachisms: Quotes From the Pirate King, Bleacher Report, 2008-11-07, retrieved 2012-12-18