Over at 37signals, Matt blogged on a topic recently that really resonated with me… the gist of what he said being that if a project or company is made up of a whole lot of people who don’t really know each other, individuals are generally going to play it safer than a group of people who are comfortable with one another who might fight harder to get their point heard. It doesn’t need to be a shit-fight, just an environment where people can be freely passionate and walk away as friends. Obviously this is a generalisation and there are always people who will say what they feel – I tend to be one of them although that’s somewhat mood dependent. Anyway, the net effect of this can often be mediocrity which can be damaging or at least limiting to a project or company.
Something else that I find i’m often up against is trying to consider how important someone’s job is to them when I set expectations around quality or general awareness of what’s going on in their professional world. As someone who spends silly amounts of time working on code, reading about development / design etc at all hours of the day, I need to keep reminding myself that for many others it’s just a job and they’re happy for it to start at nine and end at five. To loosely tie this in with Matt’s point, it’s about where the line is between profession and passion and the effect of having people around that don’t necessarily care much or are indifferent to what they do. Personally I find it frustrating and draining. Vigorous debate over things that I truly believe in (software or not) are moments that I live for, so being in situations where that can’t happen is just a little bit soul destroying. The thing with this though is that there are so many levels that you can deliver software on that are all based on the context of the business / project, cost, quality, target audience etc. There is far more work for developers than there are ‘good developers’ to do that work and the fact is that for many situations, near enough just has to be good enough. Personally, that’s just not for me though. Not that I necesarily fall ino this category (yet), but any serious product or company that excels at what they do have no time for that mentality. That’s what sets them apart.