Rules of Engagement

Before starting any new endeavor, we clearly lay out the rules of engagement. We have derived our engagement model from the Scrum development framework and list out all participants as either "Chicken" or "Pig" roles - depending on how committed they are in the project.

Scrum Master: Our Scrum Master (or Facilitator), is the main go-to person for any project related questions and maintains the processes (typically in lieu of a project manager).

Product Owner: The Product Owner represents the stakeholders in the project. The Product Owner is probably the most important individual on the Scrum team since he single-handedly is responsible for driving the direction the team is taking.

Team: The Team has the responsibility to deliver the product. A team is typically made up of 5-9 people with cross-functional skills who do the actual work (design, develop, test, technical communication, etc).

Sprint: A Sprint is a time-boxed period of software development focused on a given list of goals (but with variable scope).

Sprint Backlog: The Sprint Backlog is a document containing information about how the team is going to implement the features for the upcoming sprint. Features are broken down into tasks; as a best practice tasks are normally estimated between 4 and 16 hours of work.

Burn Down: The Sprint Burn Down chart is a publicly displayed chart showing remaining work in the sprint backlog. Updated every day, it gives a simple view of the sprint progress. It also provides quick visualizations for reference.

Meetings (Daily Scrum): Each day during the sprint, a project status meeting occurs. This is called a "scrum", or "the daily standup". The scrum has specific guidelines:

We understand that developing commitment to your six sigma project or lean initiative is difficult. Too often everyone is with you until the real work starts. Then you find out they are involved rather than committed.

That is one of the big reasons we make sure to include the project champions and sponsors in our initial briefings. Six Sigma projects and Lean deployments have the biggest impact when everyone from the executives to the green belts at your company is committed, and it sure is easier to have committed green belts when the V.P. or Senior Manager is leading the way.

Commitment - The Chicken and the Pig

Pig and Chicken: Commitment or Involvement

Although there are several variants to this fable, this is the one we like best:

A pig and a chicken are walking down a road. The Chicken looks at the pig and says "Hey, why don't we open a restaurant?" The pig looks back at the chicken and says "Good idea, what do you want to call it?" The chicken thinks about it and says "Why don't we call it 'Ham and Eggs'?" "I don't think so" says the pig, "I'd be committed but you'd only be involved."

It is a laughable joke, but it is also one of the most important role division in the Scrum methodology!

For the Chicken, only a contribution is required (as a chicken can simply lay an egg and then resume normal activities), while for the Pig a "total commitment" (or total sacrifice) is needed (as in order to make ham or bacon, the pig must be slaughtered).

This fable is commonly referenced to illustrate two types of project members: Pigs, who are totally committed to the project and accountable for its outcome, and Chickens, who consult on the project and are informed of its progress.

A successful project needs both Chickens and Pigs. However, given the sacrifice required of being a Pig - forswearing other projects and opportunities - they can be difficult to assemble. Thus, the creation of a successful project team must ensure that the project has sufficient "Pigs" and that they are empowered to drive the project in return for committing to and taking accountability for it.

At VJ INC, our entire company is based around the "Pig" role where we are totally committed to the project and take accountability for its outcome. We further elaborate "P.I.G." where P stands for Persistence, I for Integrity, and G stands for Guts. These are the ingredients for a successful project execution, and we truly believe in it!

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