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)