Friday, 21 September 2012

Motivation trumps Method

We can either tackle the problem at hand by the most direct route possible, or we can try to build tools & abstractions to help future development efforts become faster and more efficient.

The first end of the spectrum corresponds largely to the notion of a "product-oriented" development attitude, and the second end to the notion of a "capability-oriented" development attitude.

The position on the spectrum that we select is driven both by immediate constraints and long term goals, and how we balance one against the other. Living exclusively at either extreme is generally harmful and counterproductive.

This dichotomy is very loosely related to that which contrasts the predictive/CMMI/waterfall development approach with the reactive/agile approach to development in that the reactive/agile approach is very well served by a toolset that has come into existence through the efforts of a capability-oriented team.

However, the predictive-vs-reactive dichotomy is really about managing risk, whereas the product-vs-capability dichotomy is really about amortizing costs.

There is no “right” answer, it all depends upon the situation that we are in and the culture of the organization(s) with which we are operating. One thing that is really important however, is motivation. Software is all about detail, and detail is all about attention, and attention is all about motivation, and motivation is all about the team. Maintaining motivation and enthusiasm in the team just about trumps everything else.

We should do what we enjoy, because we will be so much more productive that any other consideration will be secondary.