Many of you are familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality tests. The tests grew out of personality theories first formulated by psychoanalyst Carl Jung and are used by human resources people to predict group behavior and team composition. But what if we could give similar tests to our programming and network operations, to figure out ahead of time how to match up our personality with our code? The more you think about this idea, the less far-out it seems.
The actual Myers-Briggs test consists of a series of questions. There are various versions, ranging from the traditional one offered here to a shorter four-question test here. Chances are you already know your own personality type, but my thought is that if you are going to be truly happy in your position, you need to know if you are a match.
So I have come up with my own short four-question quiz that will help you figure this out. Answer the following about your network, keeping track of the initial letter that best describes your situation:
- What influences your network and development operations: internal users' actions (I) or external events and upper management (E)?
- How do you manage problems when they occur with your code: with tools and carefully scripted techniques (S) or with scrums and agile methods (N)?
- How do you purchase your IT and development products: thinking through the implications and a rigid set of standards (T) or laissez-faire attitude and by letting users buy pretty much what they want (F)?
- Does your IT department have rigid mobile device management purchasing policies (J) or are they more flexibly and allow bring your own devices to work (P)?
All right, now you can assemble your shop's "personality type" into one of the 16 different combinations of the four letters. (See below.) Ideally, your personality and that of your shop should match on all four metrics. If not, then you might consider finding another company or another job within the company that will more closely match your personality. Alternatively, you might consider ways you can alter your shop's personality to bring it more closely in line with your own.
Let's consider two possibilities. INFP shops pretty much are organic, reactive kinds of things. Your network and production code never seems to be in a finished state, and crises happen pretty much on a daily basis. Since users rule and buy pretty much anything they want, you can't ever predict what each day will bring. You never really get out of fire-fighting mode to be able to do some planning, but that is okay if you are the similar personality type and enjoy this more intuitive approach to your job. INFP shops are usually found in high-growth companies, such as dot-coms, where every day is a chaotic blend of new hires, departmental moves and staff changes, and new requirements.
ESTJ shops are the exact opposite: users here have little say in things, and if a piece of gear isn't on your approved list, it doesn't get purchased, plain and simple. Every day is structured programming and pretty much predictable, and your code drops run according to a fixed schedule and rarely vary. ESTJ shops are usually found in more traditional centralized IT businesses, such as financial services and government, with long-range budget cycles and careful attention paid to staffing and growth.
I am sure you can come up with characteristics for the other network personalities as well, but I given that I am an ISTJ, I am out of the time I planned for writing this article. Good luck typing your shop, unless you are an ESFP and don't enjoy doing these sorts of things.