Too Good To Miss: Are You A Difficult Developer?
Written by Sue Gee   
Thursday, 26 December 2019

There are some news items from the past year that deserve a second chance. Here we have one such - an interactive infographic from Neil Green looks at personality types that cause problems for software projects. Better still there's a quiz that reveals what type of dysfunctional developer you are.


If you've not already come across Neil Green's website Neil on Software you are missing a treat. On it you'll find the interactive infographic How to Deal with Difficult People on Software projects recently went viral and deservedly so. It is far more than an amusing graphic, it is the starting point for exploring 48 Difficult People personality types engaged in six different roles:

  • Product Managers
  • Designers
  • Project Managers
  • Development Managers
  • Developers
  • Quality Assurance

If you hover the cursor over on one of the 48 avatars in the infographic you'll see a brief description of the type and typical behavior, click on one for a full analysis that repeats the description, gives insights into impact to a project and the consequences of interactions with other people:


Beyond these bullet points Green expounds on the problem and explores possible solutions -  in the case of the Rockstar, Green writes:

There is no “solution” to The Rockstar Developer – indeed; you would be foolish to “fix” them as they are your most productive developer by far. All you can do is mitigate the damage from them by building a team around them that can continue to be effective if The Rockstar were to leave. 

From answers to comments it seems that the project, which was over three years in the gestation phase, was originally intended as a book - and might still appear in print.

Talking about his choice of roles and personalities to include Green states: 

I’ve served in all of these roles (as one tends to have to in startups), but most would say my core experience is as a software developer. I will openly admit that all of the descriptions are laden with my own perceptions, which explains (among other things) why I find so many problems with developers. “The Rockstar” developer – at least in my experience – is the only high-performer that can put the entire project at risk. If a high performer in other roles leaves their will be an impact, but the project tends to become less efficient, but not wrecked. The dangerous part about “The Rockstar” is they make the other developers lazy (something I have not directly observed in other roles), and are often the targets of poaching by other companies (whereby other roles are not as actively poached). All I can ask is forgiveness for the presence of my bias’, but hopefully they’re obvious enough such that my perspective can be taken with a grain of salt, rather than as something intended to be universally accurate.

When it comes to developers there are twelve problem personalities:


If you are interested in knowing if any of these apply to you the webite includes a quiz with the title Are You a Dysfunctional Developer?. It consists of 13  questions with a  choice of 3 answers for each. Our team includes a Rockstar, an Idealist, an Extreme Underestimator and a Bull In the China Shop.

Already very insightful, this project is currently improving as other people add comments which elicit responses.  



More Information

How to Deal with Difficult People on Software projects

Are You a Dysfunctional Developer?

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 26 December 2019 )