Rands (from randsinrepose.com) posted Stables And Volatiles the other day and my visceral reaction is… ugh. Let me step back and try to break that down into something constructive.

First, I just finished Managing Humans, so I’ve recently had my fill of Rands’ writing and I might just have an overdose of quirky anecdotes that get generalized into two personalities that people are. Not personalities that people have bits of. Not, sometimes people exhibit some of this or that. No, people are stable, or are volatile. It might be fun to throw people into buckets, but it probably isn’t all that helpful.

For all the dumb corporate-speak, Predictable Success and The Synergist have been much more helpful to me trying to figure out my place in corporate America — which is to say, understanding why some people just rub me the wrong way. They’re smart, they get things done, people seem to like them — but for some reason when I work with them, I seem to spin my wheels and there is frustration from both parties. I used to just chalk it up to personality quirks, but having a better framework (and language) actually helps.

Rands also mentions “that many successful Stables used to be Volatiles who are recovering from the last war”, but I wish he had gone further. I’d posit that some Volatiles used to be Stables that are just tired of being bogged down by “going slow”. Or sometimes people flip-flop depending on the context. Or, they are like me and mentally flip between the two numerous times before making a decision.

The best developers I know are those that know when to be pragmatic and when to be audacious, when complexity is required and when simplicity is is beneficial, when to doggedly pursue and when to give up the ghost. Painting people with broad generalized strokes sure is fun, but doesn’t seem as productive as learning how you best work and how to get the best out of your co-workers.