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Re[2]: [scrumdevelopment] RE: The chickens and pigs metaphor

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  • Michael Feathers
    MP It seems to me that the correct question to ask is not why some people do NOT mind being called chickens or pigs, but why some MP people DO mind. MP I
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 28, 2004
      MP> It seems to me that the correct question to ask is not why some people do NOT mind being called chickens or pigs, but why some
      MP> people DO mind.
      MP> I can remember when I was expected 'not to mind' the 'inside' jokes, because if I did, I was by definition an
      MP> 'outsider'. Does it somehow make me better if I hide the fact that some terms offend me? Once I thought so. Not anymore.

      No, I agree. If it bothers you it is worth bringing up but that
      doesn't get back to the reason why people do mind various slights and
      percieved slights.

      One thing that irritates me a great deal is when people are referred
      to as 'resources.' It seems dehumanizing. But, interestingly, there
      are times when it doesn't bother me at all. I don't know why that is
      really, but I suspect that it means that there is a lot about
      sensitivity that we don't understand.

      MP> The lesson I learned decades ago is that language is important, and the words we use to refer to things are important. Just as we
      MP> should pay attention to developing a Ubiquitous Language so that developers and customers speak the same language, so also we should
      MP> pay attention to the terms we use in Scrum and take care that they are broadly acceptable and do not give the wrong impression to
      MP> the uninitiated.

      I think we've learned that lesson entirely too well. Or maybe we
      think we have. Before I became a consultant I had no idea how much
      cultural diversity there was in software development. I've visited
      teams where all speech is nuanced and no one says anything directly,
      teams where no one says anything negative and teams where everyone
      swears like sailors yet they get along with each other better than
      many polite teams. The insight that I carry away from this is that
      language is often less important than intention and subtext. It matters
      whether people are using language maliciously or not and whether people
      perceive language as malicious. I don't think it can be any other way.
      Groups create local language norms.

      On the bigger question though, of terminology used for Scrum. I agree
      that if the goal is to cast a wide net, we should be cautious about
      what could possibly offend and what couldn't. Unfortunately, publishing
      terminology is a lot like communicating in email. People can only pick
      up meaning by words and context. There's no body language. Intention
      is harder to assess and unfortunately it's easier to assume malice. I
      suspect though that to the degree that we reflexively try to make our
      speech as inoffensive as possible, we are actually hyper-sensitivizing
      people and making communication more difficult. But, that's just my
      opinion. I could be wrong.

      Michael
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