Path for Middle management chickens to become pigs.

by Sampath Prahalad

Attended a talk on the topic above by Anila George at the Agile India 2012 Conference. It was quite informative and thought provoking.

Just a quick definition of Chickens and Pigs in the Agile methodology.

Pigs: Anyone who is committed and responsible for the day to day work in the Scrum team. These are people who work on the team and whose tasks and activities contribute towards the success or failure.

Chickens: Managers and other stakeholders who do not directly contribute to the success of the sprint.

Click here for story on why the terminology was coined.

As a company transitions from a Waterfall software development model to Agile, the middle managers who are used to the ‘Command and Control’ type of management suddenly feel a sense of helplessness, which could cause anxiety, frustration and even boredom in the new ‘Team empowerment’ model.

Here are some steps that these chickens could take to become pigs and contribute effectively (in no particular order of preference)

  • Learn the Agile / Scrum processes and Practices and coach the team on the best practices.
  • Facilitate the Sprint planning and Retrospective meetings. Moderate these tough meetings and ensure that they stay on course and don’t get nasty.
  • Help the delivery team members see the bigger picture. Sometimes the team might be focused on a task that could fix a problem but break something else in another dependent module. e.g: An XML change in a portal could work for a Windows client depending on it but could fail for a Mac client (also depending on the XML file format).
  • Become the team member. Take on a couple of tasks. e.g: Code review for a certain module, User Experience testing,  Black box testing for a certain module, etc.
  • He/she could also help by setting up and facilitating the various Scrum meetings.
Many of the above overlap with the roles of a Scrum Master and in fact point to the transition to a Servant Leader.
The one thing to realize in all this is this: You don’t manage people. You manage things and Lead People.
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3 Responses to “Path for Middle management chickens to become pigs.”

  1. Could add a word of caution that the middle manager should take care to avoid being judgmental when interacting with the team as a scrum master shadow.

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