The Right Profile

by Jeff Langr

November 06, 2008

I’ve been feeling a little dirty recently from dealings with people who might most kindly be called duplicitous. “I’m agile,” they state at the same time their ass backs up into a cave-cube, looking to grab an ugly stick with which to beat down team members.

My wish is greedy and unreasonable: I want nothing more than to expect that if people say they are supportive of something, then they actually understand what they’re supporting and actively try to do so.

On days when I feel like Catbert, I want to use a personality-profile-based litmus test for agile attitude. Does the use of personality profiles in business derive from mistrust, from people being burned? Are they a tool for evil when used as a factor in hiring?

Employing such a test would require sufficient data demonstrating a correlation between personalities and agile. Is there correlation? A study is warranted; what would that look like? I imagine in its simplest form there are two questions.

  1. What is your Meyers-Briggs type indicator?

  2. Do you really buy into agile? (… or however you ask this and get an honest answer)

I have two suspicions hypotheses: One, for the most part, there is little correlation, and agile-capables are all over the personality map. But two, I suspect there are one or two personality types (out of the 16 Meyers-Briggs types) for whom agile is a bad match.


Jeff Langr August 16, 2012 at 1:44pm

I recall a discussion on the XP forum many years ago in which many people posted their Meyers-Briggs type indicator. Anyone recall if there was anything of value that came out of that discussion?

TimOttinger November 06, 2008 at 07:37am

I seem to remember a lot of ?NT? in the list. But my memory is hardly reliable.

OTOH, a friend of mine suggested that while individuals are sometimes hard to anticipate, by and large people can be explained with only two rules:

1) People are stupid.
2) They always take the easy way out.

Matt would argue that these two things, taken as a synergistic whole, describes almost all human behavior and especially of groups.

I’m not so willing to drink that Kool-aid but I find that a lot of dysfunction is from trying to avoid thinking and avoid expending effort.

Maybe it is our evolutionary niche, and why people willing to think and work are so extraordinary.

George Dinwiddie November 07, 2008 at 07:04am

INTP and yes.

But, as Jerry Weinberg says, “Type is not destiny.” MBTI only attempts to measure our preferences. We choose our behavior.

Jeff Langr November 9, 2008 at 09:38pm

Hi George, I agree, but I suppose my question is, are there (a hopefully small number of) M-B types that generally (a) will not go out of their way to choose their behavior and (b) are disinclined toward agile anyway?

Jeff Langr November 10, 2008 at 07:44am

I am INTJ/INTP, by the way. I’d love to get some types from the anti-agile crowd. If you know someone who thinks agile sucks, think about asking them.

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Jeff Langr

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Jeff Langr has been building software for 40 years and writing about it heavily for 20. You can find out more about Jeff, learn from the many helpful articles and books he's written, or read one of his 1000+ combined blog (including Agile in a Flash) and public posts.