A while back my group at work did personality training based on colors, very much like the letter (Type A personality) or animal (beaver and squirrel) tools that do the same thing. In it there are four colors, red, blue, green, and yellow. You answer a number of questions and are sorted based on the responses on the conscious and subconscious levels. Red is the leader type, yellow the cheerleader, green the motherly type, and blue the “show me the data and let me research” type.  I ended up being yellow-leaning-towards-red in conscious and subconscious.

All of this got me to thinking about what color the atypical developer, engineer, architect, CTO, and CIO are and how that may indicate areas you would have to grow based on your career direction.

-          Most developers and engineers I’ve met are in the blue area with very little skill in the red, green, or yellow areas; they research on their own and work in closets, popping out every now and again for sustenance. As they gain experience they typically grow in the red quadrant and become a technical lead.

-          CIOs are almost always red; they point in a direction and people follow; no doubt, no question, that is the direction. They grow the other skills to become better and can move, but normally spend their time in the red quadrant.

-          CTOs seem to be based in blue but have grown their green and yellow, but especially their red quadrant. They’ll listen to others, gather information through channels, and then they point in a direction and people follow; no doubt, no question, that is the direction.

Architects come in a lot of flavors, and depending on what type of architect will be slightly different in where they come from and what they grow. But, most experienced and seasoned architects that I have met (and that is way more than anyone should have to meet) are well balanced between all of the colors. They also recognize the traits of each quadrant in themselves and others, and are able to flip from one color to the other without much thinking about it.

-          Junior architects tend to let the red overshadow their personality, but can effectively move to whatever quadrant the situation calls for.

-          More senior architects tend to hover in the green quadrant and can move to any color in the blink of an eye.

-          Technology-founded architects grow from blue to red to green.

-          Business and strategy-based architects tend to start at red or blue and grow the blue and red skills, then yellow, and finally the green skill.

Is there a point Andy? Well, yes. I’d offer the suggestion that if you are growing your career you consider growing your interpersonal skills. To do that, you would likely need to take a hard look at yourself, figure out where you are starting, which skills you have, and where you could stand to grow. If you are technical, you likely could care less about business stuff, and likely could stand to look at how you can work better with others.

Is all this absolute? Absolutely not. This is purely anecdotal evidence I have gathered through a long career in IT and what my experience is. But, if you have an objective look you may find that there is some good information there that will help you with your career and overall growth.