Career / Management

The 5 Types of Developers and How Agile Can Help Them All

by Team Nuggets
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Published on December 19, 2017

Your devs have an Array of personalities that could make for a heist movie: The Futurist always wants to adopt the latest tech, the Historian is a SME but skeptical of the new (he's seen buzzwords come and go), the Boy Scout needs to prepare for every conceivable use-case before he writes any code, the Lone Wolf is a full-stack who works solo, and the Dev-Optimist is confidently able to overhaul the system in a week.

How can you keep things running smoothly for a team with such a varied set of personalities? Getting everyone on the same page won't always be an easy endeavor, but Agile can help.

The Futurist

The Futurist starts many a conversation with, "Hey, did you hear about...". They may be gadget enthusiasts in their personal lives, and are big proponents of introducing new tech at work.

Futurists can spark great inspiration and innovation, but they also benefit from the balance of others on the team to keep their ideas and plans feasible.

Agile's structure things like planning poker and acceptance criteria will also keep a futurist's big dreams in check. Maybe you don't actually need to rewrite your entire code base to get that feature working?

The Historian

While they're not necessarily the oldest member of the team, the Historian has been around the block and will base decisions on their experience. They tend to be great at documenting and providing thorough explanations of actions taken but that doesn't mean they don't produce results.

As a subject matter expert, the Historian has the fundamentals down better than anyone else in the department.

Agile's quick sprint and focus on deliverables will keep the Historian moving forward, rather than looking back at past methods and project pitfalls.

The Scout

Always be prepared: The Scout is the member of your team who will research and plan before jumping into a new problem. They're likely to volunteer for complex tasks and after the preparation process, will roll up their sleeves and get the job done, without requiring any ego-stroking.

While the Scout is a valuable member of the team because of their preparedness and willingness to jump in, they also may be less creative or take fewer risks than other team members.

Using Agile with the Scout will help them be more efficient and directed in producing focused tech docs that don't read like a field guide to your entire code base.

The Lone Wolf

The Lone Wolf is an enigma, a no-nonsense problem-solver. Highly competent, the Lone Wolf is a full-stack dev who seems to be able to do everything without help. They may keep to themselves personality-wise, but that doesn't mean they can't work well on the team when there are established goals to work toward. If the Lone Wolf is given autonomy, they can thrive.

The downside of the Lone Wolf is that their projects can be inscrutable to others and impossible to pick up when they go on vacation or leave the organization.

Agile's focus on collaboration will help this developer to share their knowledge and skill with everyone else on the team, and make their work more accessible to revisions.

The Dev-Optimist

The Dev-Optimist lives up to their title with a positive attitude and unflagging optimism that the team, or themselves, can take on the world. They're most likely to say, "Sure, we can do that!"

The danger with the Dev-Optimist is that they will overpromise and underdeliver. It's up to the team, and the leader, to help direct the Dev-Optimist's ambitions in a realistic direction.

Planning poker can help the Dev-Optimist be more realistic in his/her planning efforts. Maybe not everything is a two? 

Blending Personalities With Agile

If you're leading a team of diverse individuals like these (and if you're managing a Dev team, you probably are), applying all the best practices of management will help you effectively manage their personality types. But you've got a secret weapon in your arsenal that you might already be using: Agile.

Because of Agile's inherent flexibility and commitment to change and adaptation when requirements shift, it's the perfect methodology to be used by a team of diverse individuals. With Agile, different approaches and perspectives are allowed, so it's not so important that the Lone Wolf chooses one process while the Historian chooses another.

What matters is the quality of their results and ability to improve. Agile's focus on regular evaluation allows each individual to self-reflect on what's working and not working for themselves.

While understanding the different personality types on your team is useful, be sure not to pigeonhole your team members. We all have qualities of each type and wear different metaphorical hats at different times and in different circumstances. Giving your team the tools of Agile will allow them to thrive, no matter the mix of developers.

Start diving into Agile Essentials today!


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