The parable of the chicken and the pig
I was talking to a web developer earlier this week about a problem (or rather a challenge) that we share, getting commitment and maintaining the interest and energy levels of clients. I was reminded of the business parable of the chicken and the pig, and how it applies to all projects and shared endeavours, not just Agile.
Or a shortened alternative form:
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!
Pigs, if you excuse the pun have more ‘skin in the game’ and are by definition totally committed to the project and accountable for its outcome. On the other hand Chickens may drift in and out of the project, if not laying eggs(!), giving the illusion of commitment, but more likely acting as a consultant, a receiver of progress reports and a signer-of-cheques.
This metaphor has been adopted in recent years by the Agile movement, as a shorthand for why it is important for the Customer, Sponsor or main stakeholder of the work to be fully involved in a project from start to finish. Unfortunately this is almost impossible for busy, knowledgeable, and influential business people, so-called Product Owners in Agile project teams. One role I sometimes perform as a contract Business Analyst is that of a Proxy Product Owner, providing continuity, and, to the best of my ability an available and constant party, and if I can’t make all the key decisions I can at least act as a conduit to someone who can!
Wherefore Business Analysts in an Agile world?
In the absence of a formal role for a Business Analyst in Agile, I find that my skills fit very neatly into this space, including:
- Providing a translation and a bridge between the business and technical worlds.
- Being custodian of the project’s aims and objectives.
- When called upon, more often than the purists would have you believe, I can help to analyse and document business and system requirements.
- Applying my professional, disciplined and structured mindset to help ensure that Agile works in an organisation, especially where it is a new and somewhat alien and challenging cultural shift.
So, if you are having commitment issues in your organisaton, too many chickens (or roosters) strutting about and not enough reliable and faithful pigs? Maybe you need a Business Analyst!
Did you find this interesting, and want to know more about Projects, the Agile Movement or the role of Business Analysts, then you’ve come to the right place. Please leave a comment and visit the IT elementary school again 🙂
Thank you, Tony
(c) 2015 Antony Lawrence CBA Ltd.