You've no doubt heard of the various types of personality profiles that exist (you can try a free one at http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes1.htm). The most common profile is the Briggs-Myers one though there is also one for a DPSA profile.
The following is from the Marker Consulting description of DPSA profiles
DPSA profiling is an acronym for DRIVER, PROMOTER, SUPPORTER and ADMINISTRATOR.
D - DRIVER: Decisive and Direct. Drivers want to take charge in order to succeed and win.
P - PROMOTER: Outgoing and Optimistic. Promoters want to influence others and inspire them to act.
S - SUPPORTER: Sympathetic and Accommodating. Supporters want to help others and solve conflicts.
A - ADMINISTRATOR: Precise and Reserved. Administrators want to do things right and pay attention to detail.
And if you don't know Briggs-Myers profile it tries to type all people using four classifications:
- Extraversion - Introversion
- Sensing - Intuition
- Thinking - Feeling
- Judging - Perceiving
The first criterion, Extraversion - Introversion defines the source and direction of energy expression for a person. An extravert has a source and direction of energy expression mainly in the external world while the introvert has a source of energy mainly in the internal world.
Sensing - iNntuition defines the method of information perception by a person. Sensing means that a person believes mainly information he or she receives directly from the external world. Intuition means that a person believes mainly information he or she receives from the internal or imaginative world.
Thinking - Feeling defines how the person processes information. Thinking means that a person makes a decision mainly through logic. Feeling means that, as a rule, he or she makes a decision based on emotion.
The fourth criterion, Judging - Perceiving defines how a person implements the information he or she has processed. Judging means that a person organizes all his life events and acts strictly according to his plans. Perceiving means that he or she is inclined to improvise and seek alternatives.
Personally I came out as strong Driver on the DPSA profile, and an INTJ (Introvert, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging) with a very strong Thinking component. No real surprise for those who know me.
One of the interesting things is that if you look at a basic description of an INTJ you'll see the following:
"When they are in leadership roles, they are quite effective, because they are able to objectively see the reality of a situation, and are adaptable enough to change things which aren't working well."
Why is this interesting? Simply put, Agile methodologies are all about adapting how things are done to the situation at hand. And this is exactly what an INTJ leans towards.
This then leads on to another question. Does agile only work if people have the right personality type?
For me, as a Driver with an INTJ personality, agile is right up my alley. But what if you're an Administrator or Supporter, or you're the opposite to an INTJ? Can you still succeed on an agile project? Will you find it as painful as a visit to the Dentist or as tedious as waiting for a Qantas flight?
It's a tough question, but one worth asking.
If you flip the agile coin and think about Waterfall projects and then have look at the personality overviews you could think that the ISTJ personalities would seem ideally suited to Waterfall. Fixed requirements delivered using a methodical, traditional approach. So if you put these types of people in an agile project wouldn't it make them really uncomfortable having to deal with uncertainty day in and day out? Could that result in team friction, poor morale or a host of other problems?
Does it mean that forming teams means you need to have only people of certain personality types?
It's a really interesting set of questions and something I've been thinking about for quite some time.
So, to apply some very non-scientific research to my theory I'd like to do a straw poll of any who's worked in an agile project:
What's your personality type (both DPSA and Briggs-Myers if possible)? And how much did you/do you enjoy agile development?
Post your responses as a comment. I'm really curious to see the results.