Pigs, Chickens and Agile Leadership

Why understanding the difference between commitment and involvement is critical to agility

neilperkin
Feb 1, 2017 · 2 min read

Roo Reynolds has a great post on agile in the public sector, talking about some of the learnings from his time working on agile service delivery at the UK’s Government Digital Service.

He quotes from an old product manager joke:

Q: ‘When making bacon and eggs for breakfast, what’s the difference between a pig and a chicken?

A: ‘…the chicken is involved but the pig is committed’

The pig, he says, literally has skin in the game. As a product manager, it was important to work out who was going to be responsible for the service, who will need updates, and who might just get in the way. You want to spend quality time with pigs (the people who are actually committed to working with you) and as little energy as possible keeping the chickens feeling involved and updated. And the best stakeholders are those that are actually committed and become part of the delivery team.

Nicely put. Whilst it makes sense with any project to start (perhaps through a tool like RACI) with clarity on roles, I really like what he says about how you focus your time and the levels of commitment involved. There are stakeholder roles where it really makes sense to be part of delivery because you have critical skills or knowledge and you never get the sense of what’s really happening unless you’re actually there. But there are other stakeholder roles that should be more focused on enabling the framework and climate within which the team can move quickly, easily and with autonomy — to facilitate the environment to enable the team to move fast and then get out of the way. Understanding the difference enables real agility.

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Image courtesy. This article also appears on LinkedIn

Building The Agile Business

Thoughts on organisational agility and digital transformation in support of the books ‘Building the Agile Business’ and ‘Agile Transformation’ (both Kogan Page)

neilperkin

Written by

Author of Building the Agile Business. Founder of Only Dead Fish. Curator of Google Firestarters.

Building The Agile Business

Thoughts on organisational agility and digital transformation in support of the books ‘Building the Agile Business’ and ‘Agile Transformation’ (both Kogan Page)

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