Never Serve Raw Chicken!

This anecdote will help your Scrum Team understand the importance of Done Increments.

The Story

A businesswoman enters a restaurant called Amazing Burgers. Amazing Burgers is renowned for its fresh and juicy burgers. It’s a small and popular place where the owner still serves his customers himself. The kitchen is visible from the dining room through a large glass window, so guests can watch the chefs at work. From watching them, it's clear that these chefs know what they do and enjoy their work.

The owner welcomes his new customer and leads her to a table. After showing her the menu, he takes her order.

I'd like the chicken burger deluxe, please", the businesswoman responds. Then she adds, "Unfortunately I'm a bit in a hurry today. I have to leave in ten minutes for an important meeting. It's one of those you can't miss. Could you ask your chefs to be quick?

The owner, not wanting to disappoint his customer, passes the order straight to the kitchen. After a quick chat with his chefs, he returns to her table. He looks a little uncomfortable when he tells her, "We're really sorry, but we can’t serve your order!"

The woman looks surprised as she didn't expect this answer. She replies, "Oh! Why is this? I came here because I was told you serve the best burgers in town."

The owner could sense a trace of frustration in her voice, and he felt that it wouldn't take much to upset her. He gives her a shy smile and replies, "We work hard for our reputation, and that's why we can't serve a chicken burger in under ten minutes. The chicken wouldn't be cooked. You wouldn't like it, and you might even get sick. We don't want that, and we're sure you wouldn't want that either."

The woman pauses for a second and replies, "You're right. I don't want that. I realize that's part of why you are renowned for high-quality. Your chefs must be really proud of their products. I'm sorry I pushed you!"

Then she leaves the restaurant.

The next day, she comes back, accompanied by some of her staff who'd also like to taste the best chicken burgers in town and meet the crew who proudly delivers them.



You're wondering what this story has to do with Scrum? Here are some questions for you to reflect on:

  • What's the general issue with raw chicken?
  • If the restaurant was a Scrum Team which role would everyone have?
  • In Scrum, what would the raw chicken stand for?

Think about it for a moment before you read on…

Okay then, let's break down the story: The issue with raw chicken is that you might get sick from eating it. Chefs serving raw chicken are generally considered unprofessional (unless they serve Torisashi at a sushi restaurant which isn't the case here). That's why professional chefs don't deliver raw chicken. Never. Professional chefs don't want to harm their customers and their business. Professional chefs take pride in what they do!

If the restaurant was a Scrum Team, the owner would be the Product Owner, the chefs would be the Developers and the businesswoman would be their customer.

The raw chicken burger would be an Increment of a product that isn't Done. Developers not delivering Done Increments are acting unprofessionally. Delivering an undone Increment of a product has a profound impact on the value of the product, the customers and the Scrum Team:

  • Developers that deliver an undone Increment deprive the Product Owner of the opportunity to release the Increment and increase the value of the product.
  • Developers that don't make transparent the undone state of the Increment, might make a Product Owner release an Increment that harms the user and the organization.
  • Product Owner makes a product decision based on a wrong perception of the Increment.

In each of these cases, the value of the product is unlikely to increase. Rather, the trust of the customers in the organization, the trust of the organization in the Scrum Team and the trust of the Product Owner in the Developers will suffer.

That's why professional Developers don't deliver undone Increments! Professional Developers take pride in what they do! Professional Developers adhere to their Definition of Done and deliver Done Increments only!

And while the meaning of Done varies from product to product, all Definitions of Done serve the same purpose: To make sure everyone understands what needs to be done for work to be complete and for the Increment to be usable by the customer and releasable.

Are you a professional Scrum Developer? Do you take pride in what you do? Do you maintain a Definition of Done, or do you need to create a Definition of Done?

Here's more information about creating a great Definition of Done, including a free template to make your Definition of Done (DoD) transparent.

Get DoD template!

Do you want to learn more about Scrum?

We hope that this story has given you valuable insights about Scrum. If you want to learn more about Scrum, our professional Scrum training might be a great start.

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PS: Thank you to my peers on the Professional Scrum Trainer (PST) community. The raw-chicken analogy has been around for a long time. With some degree of uncertainty left, we think it goes back to Simon Reindl, Guus Verweij or Ken Schwaber himself ;‑)