For the Software developer bestiary

The Sheep

Quote: “Yes Boss!”

Also known as: “The Zombie

First of all: This has nothing to do with real sheep (the woolly kind). I like sheep and if any sheep are offended by this, I apologize.

Some project managers seem to like staff members who always do what they are told and never complain. If you have had the misfortune to work with sceptics, I can even understand that it feels good not to get a debate over every single decision. Unfortunately, sheep can be your worst enemy. Communication within the project is one of the most important ingredients for successful development, and if your team doesn’t communicate or if the communication is one-way, you’ll never know if something is wrong until it’s too late.

Sheep accept any task given to them and will continue working with it no matter how flawed the design is. They will often think that the reason they can’t get things to work is their own lack of skill. They avoid bringing attention to their problems because they think that it will put them in a bad light.

So, why do I call them sheep? Because: “only sheep need a leader”. Sheep are uncreative to the point where they need constant leadership to be able to function.


Sheep are timid and shy, often due to insecurity caused by lack of experience. They never complain and seldom have ideas of their own.


Project manager sheep are rare, since their personalities make them avoid positions where they have to be in charge. If you get one, you’ll probably have a project that will deteriorate into anarchy, making the replacing of the project manager an easy decision.

Developer sheep are more common and can be handled the same way you deal with optimists: make sure that there is someone with more experience working together with the sheep and that this mentor, can point the sheep in the right direction. As long as you are aware that a lot of time will be spent leading the sheep, this solution may work for you.

Unfortunately, some sheep never change and will probably have to accept that they have chosen the wrong career.

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