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Re (tilly) 4: Article: 'Fire and Motion' (on productivity)

by tilly (Archbishop)
on Jan 08, 2002 at 21:34 UTC ( #137187=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Re: Re: Re: Article: 'Fire and Motion' (on productivity)
in thread Article: 'Fire and Motion' (on productivity)

I have to register strong disagreement.

Motivation is a necessary component, sure. But motivation is not in and of itself sufficient to be productive. In fact in excess it is typically a detriment. For instance many highly motivated programmers get told to work, begin coding away, and create horrible messes. Because they know no other way to work, they are doomed to be incredibly unproductive. And adding more motivation won't help one bit since the problem isn't lack of motivation.

Indeed the advice to just open up the editor and keep typing is horrible advice. The fact is that productivity differences between programmers of 2 orders of magnitude have been reliably measured. And the people who are most productive when studied spend a far smaller fraction of their time than average involved in actually typing. Therefore the advice to just keep typing guarantees that you will go to the bottom of the overall productivity scale and stay there.

What you need to do is try to move from being average to being good. You need to work on a constant basis, yes. But if you wish to become and remain a good programmer you need to devote a significant fraction of your time to developing and maintaining your skillset, another significant fraction to designing and analyzing your projects (some of which really has to be spent letting ideas sit in your brain), more time in reviewing what you wrote, looking for potential problems, figuring out how to test, so on and so forth.

None of these is going to happen just because you are incredibly motivated. You need to know that it is important and conciously take time away from the current request list to get answers. And any manager who tries to impose this myopic view of how things should work will drive off any competent programmers they happen to have while guaranteeing low productivity.

For more on this I recommend picking up Rapid Development by Steve McConnell. He has quite a bit to say about how attempts to speed development by motivating people result in shoddy software, missed development cycles and rapid burnout...

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