Responding to Changes

The team I worked with was scattered in a cube farm with 5 foot walls. Well, except for the two who chose to work in a large storage closet.

After the first sprint, we finally moved to a common area. Still in cubes, but with short walls so everyone could see everyone else. Well, except for the two guys in the closet.

It took some influencing, but eventually they moved too. Some people just don’t seem to be in a hurry to change.


The team sat around the room. They struggled to find a way to refactor an object that had become a catch-all for the application’s bits and pieces. Every time they got close to a solution, Peter would chime in with another possibility. Finally Joy snapped, “This is how we’re going to do it!” stopping all conversation.


Youíve probably noticed people behave differently. Differences become pronounced during change. People start to act out in ways that don’t make sense to us. But if we look at peoples’ temperaments, we might have an idea what’s happening for them. Based on the Jungian psychological types, David Keirsey’s four temperaments allow us to understand weaknesses and strengths during change.

CHANGE AND TEMPERAMENT1

The Visionary (NT) likes working with ideas. NT Visionaries are most interested in designing, rather than implementing, change. They like to provoke with ideas, even during Chaos when such provocation is inappropriate and may cause much pain and confusion.

The Catalyst (NF) likes working with people to help them grow, but is concerned that people should not suffer from change. They have a tendency not to let people experience their own pain, so they may short-circuit Integration by trying to be helpful. They are such team players that they may want everyone to do the same thing, even if their personalities are different. Also, they may want everyone to do something at the same time, even if people are at different stages of the change process.

The Organizer (SJ) likes order and system. The important thing to [them] is not just doing it, but doing it right. .. They are best at carrying the transformation into actual practice, long after the NT Visionaries have gotten bored. Although SJ Organizers tend to fear quick change, they may push for quick closure, like getting firm commitments during Chaos when it is inappropriate. They may also stifle all change by requiring that success be provable in advance.

The Troubleshooter (SP) likes getting the job done. [They] want quick fixes, not elaborate plans. They are the least likely to deny the foreign element, because they see it as an opportunity to swing into action. For SP Troubleshooters, change should be fast, so they don’t get stuck with something that’s boring. As a result, they are impatient with planning, and may provoke change for its own sake, piling one change on another, even during Chaos. Impatient with Integration and Practice, they may drop out if change seems too slow.


It’s important to notice that each temperament has both strengths and weaknesses during change. We can utilize different strengths to help achieve the desired New Status Quo. Knowing where the change currently resides on the Satir Change Model allows us to understand why team members act like they do.

These descriptions aren’t “one size fits all.” People have many facets so don’t expect all NTs to act the same way during change. At minimum these descriptions could be thought of as “tendencies”. Sometimes they’ll be dead on. While not truth, they can be useful.

In addition to Temperaments, different people process change at different rates, and other parts of our personality like survival rules, family background and self-esteem affect our responses to change.

Change can seem simple and straight forward when drawn and diagrammed with nice squares, straight lines, and check lists. But when we look at what actually happens, change is anything but straight forward. If youíre currently in a mess, contact me and letís clean up the mess together.

1Quality Software Management Vol 4 Anticipating Change, © 1997 Gerald M. Weinberg, ISBN 0-932633-32-3 pp 60-61 If you prefer ebooks Becoming a Change Artist contains this material and more

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