Saturday, May 17, 2008


Does your enterprise suffer from bad morale?

I noticed that the morale of software developers in large enterprises nowadays is in the toilet. Maybe the best way to motivate developers is to let them develop...

The funny thing is that morale is in the can not because developers aren't motivated but because they are receiving confusing messages from enterprise architects and other IT executives. We speak in cliche phrases such as buy-vs-build and how IT must align with the business which makes no sense to those actually writing software.

When was the last time you ever heard an IT executive addressing a bunch of developers communicating what kinds of programs will please the business the most? Have you ever considered that developers like to please and they will more than likely give you that kind?

Developers are already motivated. The trick is not how to motivate them, but how to not de-motivate them. What would it take for us to put our so called savage pursuit of best practices on pause for a minute to understand their unintended consequences?

If you want to become an employer of choice which should be part of the enterprise strategy, one needs to consider eliminating of every process that is demotivating. Can we acknowledge within our own backgrounds that the best places we have worked focused on productivity where developers were allowed to develop, to improve the quality of software when they saw it necessary, to explore new technology where appropriate, to dress as casually as legally feasible and to work the hours they wished?

Can we also acknowledge that the places we disliked the most were the ones that enforced dress codes, where project managers ignored team input into schedules, eschewed quality in order to hit a date and attempted to treat employees with a manufacturing mindset as if they were factory workers?

When was the last time your boss assigned you to a project not just based on skills but also on interest? One interesting observation is that folks over in India also are some of the most motivated folks I have ever ran across and I have the utmost respect for them in this regard. It is horrific that their own employers and IT executives in large enterprises have put in processes that are designed to keep developers as far from users as possible. This is not only unproductive, but de-motivating as well.

Yes, it is true that if developers interact with users, that those interactions have a high risk of scope creep, but isn't this really the best way to satisfy the business and have better alignment?

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