Productivity through Motivation on a Software Project

Productivity through Motivation

One of the greatest gains you can make on a software project is better productivity through motivation.

The great American Football coach, Vince Lombardi, once said that there are a lot of coaches who can improve the team tactically but that the really successful ones are those that can get “inside those guys’ heads and bring the best out of them”.

I have asked many people who work as developers in the industry how much more productive they could be if they were really motivated. Most of these have many years of experience. The answers they give me are usually in the range of being 50% to 200% more productive. I won’t name them here. When asked what would motivate them to achieve these greater rates of productivity they usually answer that if they were working for themselves they could achieve those levels.

Doubly Productive

It is very interesting to note that your project members could be, on average, doubly productive if truly motivated. Maybe they will never give you the same productivity that they would give themselves. You should be able to unlock some of these productivity gains if you simulate, as far as possible, working for themselves.

Conditions in which they profit (and profit well) from their productivity gains should be created. The model of the City of London traders should be used. They are trained well, given a base salary, motivated by a sharing of rewards, and set free to make money for their companies and for themselves.

Best Developers

By doing something similar, it would be easier to keep your best developers and to stop them going freelance. By giving them a base salary and a pension you give them security. By giving them a chance to earn large bonuses by bringing in projects, and their parts of the project, ahead of budget and schedule, you give them the chance to make money.

With this mixture of security and earning potential, and possibly career progression as well, why would anyone want to leave to become freelance? Why, indeed, would they want take another permanent job with another company which has backward practices, low rewards, and fewer opportunities to achieve and be recognised.

Imagine All Your People

Imagine a company where the people are highly motivated, have security, are well rewarded, and have high self esteem through high (and constantly improving) productivity. This company will retain its best people and their business knowledge. It will produce software of better quality and with better time-to-market than its competitors.

People’s morale will be high. Customers will be highly satisfied. They will gain market share and have high margins. The Finance Director will smile. The shareholders will be rich. They will reward their senior management. This company will be a worldbeater. There’s absolutely no reason why this company could not be yours.

It is not easy. Any change is resisted. To be forewarned, however, is to be forearmed

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