Are you a Cat or a Dog Developer?

I've been on some Effective Communication training today and one of the exercises was to see whether we conformed more to the behaviour of a Cat or a Dog. Michael Grinder came up with behaviour model to try and explain why we find it easier to relate and work with some people more than others.

If you consider your pet Dog, they're often characterised as being very excitable and enthusiastic. Tail wagging when you come home running after the ball you throw it. Doing everything they can to be liked by you even at a cost to themselves. They want to be mans best friend afterall.

Now contrast that with a cat, independant you can leave them out all night and they're fine. They never really seem that bothered when you come home from work. They're only likely to pay you attention when they want feeding. With a cat it's very much on their terms. The quote associated with the metaphor goes:

A Dog Thinks:

"Wow, you feed me, look after me when I'm ill and give me a place to live... You must be a God"

A Cat Thinks:

"Wow, you feed me, look after me when I'm ill and give me a place to live... I must be a God"


Dogs and cats have very different motivators, as listed below.

Cat Motivators

  • Wants to be respected
  • Needs a Challenge
  • Task and Issue focussed
  • Hierarchial it's all about your position in the company
  • Isn't bothered by conflict
  • Wants to make all the decisions
  • loves intrigue

Dog Motivators

  • Needs to be liked
  • Needs comforting and re-assurance
  • Relationship focussed
  • prefers flat hierarchies everyone is equal
  • doesn't like conflict
  • Like clear exact instructions
  • Very good at research or data gathering

So for dogs it's all about the pack or team and being liked. For a cat it's all about respect and position of authority. When we look at Scrum teams and agile in general, you'd think that it has a much stronger steer towards dogs. But still even within scrum teams there could certainly be a cat or two. Does your scrum team have a cat? It tends to be that 70% or people are Dogs and 30% are Cats, that's not to say people don't exist inbetween. They do. We learned that cats tend to occupy management positions more naturally, but they tend to hit a ceiling, where they're forced to improve they're dog skills to progress further.

Have a look at the following behaviours, which one do you lean towards?

Cat Behaviours - Credible Cat

  • Sits straight
  • keeps still
  • perfectly balanced
  • listens silently
  • faces palms dowards
  • sounds credible, conveys information

Dog Behaviours - Approachable Dog

  • Leans forward
  • Nods head
  • positions their weight to once side.
  • Makes listening sounds -- uh huh
  • Palms face upwards
  • voice seeks information, very approachable

The reality is of-course that you'll have a few from both, but it's interesting to look at.


Dogs Golden rule

Treat others how you would like to be treated.

A dog is motivated by all that is good and fair, and will assume that you'll reciprocate. Dogs are transparent (not literally) WYSIWYG


Cats Platinum rule

Treat others the way they need to be treated.

Treat a cat like a cat and a dog like a dog. It's not scheming or unfair, it's just being more cat-like.


So when you think about your team, or company; who are the cats and who are the dogs. If you think you're a dog but want the credibility of a cat, maybe you should adopt some of the cat behaviours. Listen siltently, appear reflective and then deliver your verdict.

If you're a Cat, maybe try nodding along with a team member and putting your point across as an equal not from a authoritive position.

The Pomodoro Pairing Technique

Recently my friend Andrew's re-joined the company and joinied my team at work. It's always interesting when new people joing the team, invariably they bring new ideas and techniques with them. One technique that I associate with him, and that's quickly caught on within the team is to set a 20 minute timer, and then swap control whilst pairing on a task.

It seems to work eerily well. To the point that I've even been doing it at home over the last few days, on my little hobby projects (including this very blog post). What makes it altogether even stranger is that Scott Hanselman has just posted a podcast relating to personal systems of organisation, in which he described this very technique as the Pomodoro Technique. Not only that but he mentioned several other techniques to improve one's organisation. Including David Allen's Getting things done technique.

All I can say is that I'm finding the 20 minute timer, quite good at helping me focus. With the benefit of it becoming almost rhymthical in pairing including a break after 40 minutes of coding or 1 pair rotation. It's a good pacemaker. I think the Pomodoro technique can involve more than a simple timer but for now I'm happy with that.




The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in anyway.

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