Agile, People, Software Development, Team

Three confounding characters in the Software Development #zoo #agile

Someone asked me how I come up with topics for my blog posts. I responded by saying that most of them just kinda appear by something I read or see. Today’s post was one that just appeared out of the blue in a new way. I drove past the zoo.

As I drove past the view, I was thinking about the different animals and the personalities they have. Then I thought about the three characters I find on Software Development that sometimes vex me. Now these are not specific to Software Development projects. You may even see these characters out in the wild on Twitter.

The Three confounding characters

1) The Parrot

Natural Habitat: The Parrot can be frequently seen on most projects. The Parrot is most at home in meetings and group discussions.

Behavior: The Parrot can typically be seen in meetings echoing what others have mentioned to be issues for the project or mentioning tasks that still need to be done. The issue with the Parrots are that they are usually unable to provide suggestions or recommendations on how these stated issues can be resolved or addressed causing frustration with other team members. They also hesitate to take on tasks that still need to be done. Ironically they are viewed positively by clients as they continue to mention issues that affect the clients. But ultimately they contribute little to the resolution of the issues or tasks.

2) The Owl

Natural Habitat: The Owl can be seen on most projects. The Owl typically dislikes meetings and instead prefers to make nests and have one on one conversations.

Behavior: The Owl typically displays territorial behavior. The Owls like to have tasks and roles clearly defined and are on the watch for any tasks or work that cross these boundaries. If problems arise on the project, the Owl is typically the first to place blame and ask ‘Who?’. Who is responsible?, Who didn’t do this correctly?, Who designed this?

3) The Zookeeper

Natural Habitat: The Zookeeper can either be found on projects or in the wild on Twitter. 

Behavior: Sometimes the Zookeeper can exist on projects, but usually Zookeepers flourish on Twitter. Zookeeper’s behavior typically revolve around placing people and ideas in the cages they alone define. New ideas and innovations that do not fit existing cages cause Zookeepers great angst. Zookeepers typically spend a lot of effort either ensuring that ideas and tasks fit into their preferred structure or criticizing and discrediting ideas and innovations so that they don’t need to be accounted for. 


Thankfully there is a pattern that can help with these three confounding characters. Agile. By having a true cross-functional team, these characters are integrated more into the team and many of the behaviours are muted. All team members are expected to contribute to solutions, have collective ownership, and embrace ideas and innovations from everyone.

About Terry Bunio

Terry Bunio has worked for Protegra for 14+ years because of the professionalism, people, and culture. Terry started as a software developer and found his technical calling in Data Architecture. Terry has helped to create Enterprise Operational Data Stores and Data Warehouses for the Financial and Insurance industries. Along the way Terry discovered that he enjoys helping to build teams, grow client trust and encourage individual career growth, completing project deliverables, and helping to guide solutions. It seems that some people like to call that Project Management. As a practical Data Modeller and Project Manager, Terry is known to challenge assumptions and strive to strike the balance between the theoretical and real world approaches for both Data Modelling and Agile. Terry considers himself a born again agilist as Agile implemented according to the Lean Principles has made him once again enjoy Software Development and believe in what can be accomplished. Terry is a fan of Agile implemented according to the Lean Principles, the Green Bay Packers, Winnipeg Jets, Operational Data Stores, 4th Normal Form, and asking why


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