Extroverting the Introvert

The second pronounced side effect of an engineering organization transforming itself to agile, is the extroversion of the introvert. The cornerstone of agile approaches is personal communications, or in the words of agile manifesto, individuals and interactions over processes and tools. But quite many programmers don't feel comfortable interacting with others or just lack social skills, and they got attracted to computers exactly because it doesn't require any personal communication.

While many agile coaches think that such introverted programmers will either have to adapt or leave, what always happens in such situations is that agile is forced to adopt to the introverts, and not vice versa. Namely, around an introvert programmer a silo always forms and this silo usually includes the critical piece of the system. In the minds of top managers, the critical piece of the system and the introvert keeping it in his silo are inseparable, which results in a sacred cow that nobody is allowed to touch.

I've met several such introverts in my career. What's interesting about them is that they always seem to want to get out of their silo themselves, since they got bored doing the same things day after day and they actually miss interaction with the rest of the team. While forcing agile on the introvert always results in violent clashes, there exists several gentler approaches how to open the introverts up and bring them closer to the rest of the team. I'll describe these approaches tomorrow.