Psychology and Quality - 
 A Winning Combination
By Pat Craig 

From the Spring 1995 issue of the Complexity Management Chronicles 

Applying knowledge about the personality types of developers, development managers, and QA team members can lead to higher quality products. For instance, by understanding your developers' personalities, you could have a clearer idea of whose program code is weak. By understanding QA team members better, you can utilize their strengths more effectively. 

The Myers Briggs Type Indicator is a well known psychological test. Contact our office if you are interested in the official testing services. The Temperament Research Institute in California, (800-700-4874), has many Myers Briggs books and materials. Someone with some Myers Briggs training can often determine the personality type of the people around them by merely observing their day-to-day actions. 

The Myers Briggs indicator identifies people according to four areas of behavior/preference: 

   1.Introverted (I) or extroverted (E) , 
   2.Intuitive (N) (visionary, head in the clouds) or Sensing (S) (practical, feet on the ground, focused on the here and now) 
   3.Thinking (T) (cool, rational, detached, task oriented) or Feeling (F) (value oriented, compassionate, relationship oriented) 
   4.Judging (J) (high judgmental, or critical, sense. "wrap it up" mentality) or Perceiving (P) (open, fluid. "let's keep our  options open" mentality) 

These four behavior/preferences yield 16 distinct types. The 16 personality types are segmented into four key groups: NTs(Visionaries), NFs (Catalysts), SPs (Trouble-Shooter, Negotiators), and SJs (Traditionalist, Stabilizers). Some individuals donot fit neatly into any one category and therefore take on aspects of two personality types. 

Introverts often make better developers because development requires solitude and quiet reflection. Two introvert types, INTJ(Builder) and an INFJ (Author) make the finest developers. Each is found in only 1% of the population. Both are visionaries, an 
important trait, because development demands the ability to visualize a clearly defined end state. Their "wrap it up" mentalityenables them to take the actions required to make their vision a reality. 

Two other introverted types with a "wrap it up" mentality, the ISFJ (Conservator) and the ISTJ (Guardian) also make good developers. Each is found in about 6% of the population. Their focus on the "here and now" prevents them from the clarity of vision found in INFJ and INTJ. However, their practical side makes them wonderful performers and particularly good testers. 

People with an SP personality type are problematic for those concerned with quality. SP's negotiation skills hinder them as developers and testers. Call our office if you would like more specific detail about the difficulties we have had working with SP's to produce a quality product. 

The extroverts: ENTP (Analyst), ENTJ (Field Marshall), ENFJ (Mentor), ESTJ (Administrator), and ESFJ (Seller) fit well in management, planning, or coordination roles. 

In producing a quality product with minimal formal control mechanisms, it is desirable to have some members on the team with the integrity and courage to stand up to management and say, "The software is not ready to ship yet." ENFJs and INFJs are particularly gifted in this area as each possesses great integrity. 

We trust that this brief description of how Myers Briggs relates to quality will give you some insight when dealing with yourdevelopers and testers. 

©Complexity Management 1994 
Somerville, Massachusetts
Located in Metropolitan Boston


Complexity Management Chronicles, a newsletter for software quality assurance professionals, is published in print form four times a year. Send your name and snail-mail address to the e-mail address below if you would like to be on the mailing list - at no cost to USA mailing addresses. 


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