Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Scrum pigs - musing about commitment

Programming is very difficult. To do it well requires a phenomenal amount of commitment. To motivate yourself and keep yourself committed, you need to have pride in what you're doing. If instead you consider yourself a mechanical assembly line worker, [...] then you're not going to have enough interest in what you're doing to do it well.

If your commitment doesn’t encompass a genuine passion for the work at hand, it becomes a void that is almost impossible to conceal, no matter how elaborately or attractively designed it is.

Study after study has shown that motivation probably has a larger effect on productivity and quality than any other factor.

Commitment is the key for success! This is my firm personal belief!

Sometimes I wonder if I am wrong ... but then I find evidence that others share my belief.

Scrum is one such evidence. Scrum defines pigs and chickens. Pigs are committed, chickens are just involved:

This is not just a joke, without this fundamental role perception Scrum does not work! Everybody involved really has to understand, what it means to be a pig and a chicken.

If one pig starts behaving like a chicken the others have no choice but to gradually follow... we are entering the broken-window-cycle.

piglet.jpg But some animals are more equal than others! This is also true for the scrum-pigs: If an unworthy developer-pigglet feels that it wants to hatch and chatter like a chicken, this can easily be corrected or overlooked.
But when the mighty scrum-master-boar or the grand product-owner-sow starts swinging his imaginary wings and bouncing from pole to pole, then all the little developer-piglets have no choice but to follow!
... jumping out of the allegory ...

If the product-owner or the scrum-master (they may also be called customer and project-leader) give the impression that they are not committed to the project, the developer only has two options:

Either he starts committing even more, trying to compensate for the lack of commitment of the others. This is usually a very frustrating and sometimes even self-destructive endeavor.

Or he begins himself not to care. This often a subconscious act of self-protection. But the result is the typical project-setup in mikado-style (whoever moves, looses) and queen-of-spades-style (pass the blame as fast as possible).


  1. Good posting :).
    You may also be interested in the following post (and site in general -- it is entirely about Chickens and Pigs!)...

    Thank you.

    - mike vizdos

  2. Nice blog...the commitment topic is something of interest to me too.


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