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Archive for February, 2009

What Motivates You?

One of the aspects of agile that makes it so popular with development teams is that—at least within the boundaries of a sprint—a team is left to make its own decisions about how it completes its work. It’s a lot of responsibility for the team, but, when the team is empowered to self-organize, its members tend to take more ownership of the work to be done and experience more satisfaction when it’s successfully completed. It’s really simple psychology. Nobody likes someone looking over their shoulder and bossing them around. When a developer can dictate his or her own course of action and see how their decisions positively impacted the business, then everybody wins.

But what else motivates us? By and large, our most deep-seeded motivations are personal. We all have our own definitions of rewarding work. Interestingly, Jurgen Appelo surveyed a group of developers and found that what inspires them can be as idiosyncratic as our tastes in food, music, or the opposite sex. You can take a look at the whole list here: http://agile.dzone.com/articles/what-motivates-some-us, but here are a few of the best:

  • The main part of my motivation comes from knowing that I can implement things that make people’s lives easier. (Jeremiah Dodds)
  • When I am so absorbed in my work that time flies by and I suddenly realize that 4 hours have gone by when it only felt like 10 minutes. (Russell Ball)
  • When I meet someone who actually uses our web sites, and really, really likes them. (Jan Miczaika)
  • Trust from a manager. I am especially referring to the time after a project is completed… if the project was done successfully, being trusted with another critical project and more responsibility on the project. (Brad Schafbuch)

Winter Reading

I don’t know about you, but it seems like there’s always a stack of books on my desk or nightstand that I’m just not getting to. And given the rise in agile’s popularity, there are too many books on agile and development, in general, for me to keep up with. So when I saw this very short list by Meera Subbarao of the five best books she read last year (http://agile.dzone.com/articles/the-top-5-books-i-read-2008), it seemed like a tailor-made cheat sheet. Here’s her top five:

  • Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship by Robert C. Martin
  • Effective Java, Second Edition by Joshua Bloch
  • The ThoughtWorks Anthology by ThoughtWorks
  • Java Power Tools by John F. Smart
  • Groovy Recipes: Greasing the Wheels of Java by Scott Davis