In an earlier post I discussed the vagaries of herding the cats of developers. Here I want to chat a bit about motivation of creative developers in a more diffuse sense -- about how to create the environment that allows for quality and valuable software to "materialize."
This is nearly a diametrically opposite approach to the conservative management of a formally enforced SDLC. And it only tangentially has to do with software. First, consider in general what motivates an artist: a desire to be creative, a desire for recognition, a desire to be challenged, and a desire to stand out amongst their peers. Maybe they seek glamour, or grunge, or just to make an aesthetic statement. Maybe they want to promote a socially redeeming view.
Considering the amount of demanding self-discipline, focus, sensitivity, and work that this requires, how do you create a comfortable supportive space in a world of abrupt changes, insecurities, hidden stakeholders, control freaks, and conflicting priorities?
Mostly it helps to be honest and open in your approach. You don't have to necessarily build a consensus, but it does help to lay all of your cards on the table: acknowledge both the staff needs and the strategic challenges as well as how you plan to enable the former through the onslaught of the latter.
Yeah that by itself seems like a considerable undertaking, but the mere process of discussing it with your staff and your superiors will get you on the same page. At least it will settle the expectations toward how much of the developers art you can bear under the freedom of the muses versus how much of their work must yield to the dogma of the Methodology.