Software Developers: The Chicken or the Pig?

When it comes to making a big decision about product development, who really should have the final say: Should it be the programmers, who put their hearts and souls into the creation of the software, or should be it the business people who actually turn the software into a profitable product?

The anecdote that is probably most often quoted in this discussion is the classic fable of the chicken and the pig. But this story really just ends up creating a whole new bag of questions: Are the developers the chicken or the pig? Whose butt is really on the line if the product is not considered a success? And does it really need to be that polarizing? The specific, assigned roles of Scrum – product owner, development team, Scrum Master and stakeholders – are supposed to answer a lot of those questions.

However, Niclas Reimertz, business unit manager for SmartBear-Sweden, doesn’t think we’ve reached a complete solution to this issue. Check out the video above to see Niclas’ own take on the chicken and the pig story, as well as his thoughts about the next step for product ownership in software industry. Enjoy.
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  1. Ben Austin says:

    Right, there’s definitely two sides to this argument, and taking one side or the other can be controversial. However, I do think Niclas does a good job of pulling it all together and expressing the idea that the relationship can’t be as adversarial as the chicken and the pig if we’re going to produce the best possible product for the end user.

  2. My chicken vs. pig experience – I didn’t “need” the job – the company wooed me (had me write my own job description) and then reneged on their promise what I would be doing day-to-day. 
    I called them out and *requested* a transition to move towards what was promised. The owner asked me to leave and had the gall to say he took “all the risk by hiring me”.  
    I told him to GFH and didn’t give him the 3-4 weeks transition he wanted! I also left with a new gig lined up.

  3. If management and the team have a good relationship, and value Agile, then the pig/chicken thing doesn’t hurt, and can be a jovial reminder of roles. 
    If management and the team don’t have a good relationship, then you are already in a Dilbert cartoon, or worse, Agile won’t be effective, and the pig/chicken thing won’t save it. 
    The analogy won’t *cause* divisions, but like so many of the Sprint processes, it will bring any small flaws or stress points into the daylight.  
    Whether these are resolved, or become stress-fractures depends on the maturity of both the team and management.

  4. Ben Austin says:

    Great points Guy, thanks for the comment!

  5. Even though this has to be the most offensive anology in development today, I’ll offer my less than arrogant opinion. The point is that during an agile scrum if chickens (managers) talk, they might start micro-managing, and we want to avoid that.

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