> I think I am starting to see the effects of complacency. In my current job, I have a development manager
Why do you think the Peter Principle and Dilbert Principle got coined? :-)
Programmers become 9-to-5'ers because of cynicism and pessimism. Why do your best effort when your project is just cancelled in one year because management doesn't understand "what business solution it provides" ??
Companies constantly fail to learn that it not only important to motivate people, it is extremely important to NOT de-motivate people.
There are 2 really insightful comments from last year which perfectly explain why older programmers become cynical:
"> What he's saying is that Apple has an actual functional internal milestone systems
Exactly. Look, Apple designers have to come up with just as many bad ideas ad the Philips designers, but at Apple, they get killed of early. At Philips, they spend resources pulling those bad ideas along until they're almost ready to ship, and then decide which will die. It means most of the development cycle is a farce, and if the engineers/designers know there's a 90% chance that the thing they're working on will never be manufactured, it means you're not going to get their best, most serious effort.
If you find managers who can actually identify the best ideas when they're in an unfinished, formative state, then you can focus a lot more of your 'make this the best possible widget' energy on the good ideas and waste less time putting round corners on internet-connected razor blades."
"The big difference between Philips and Apple isn't whether projects are killed earlier or later.
The difference is how the projects come to be and reach these milestones.
Philips uses a "technology platform" system, or at least did during the time Tony was there. I don't know what they use now. That means someone in a technology division at the company develops a technology. Then they develop some platforms that use the technology. They then produce reference platforms or designs that use the technology. Then they take those reference designs around the company and try to find a product group in the company that wishes to ship a product like that.
The problem with this is that it is pushing a rope. You frequently will make up products that show off a technology but that few people would want to use let alone buy. This system was commonplace with companies at the time. You can still see this system if you look at something like dealextreme or meritline. You will see many companies (barely more than entrepreneurs in these cases) who make products simply because the technology lends itself to them, regardless of whether anyone would want to use it.
The big difference in how Apple did it, and still does it, is that Apple identifies a product people would want to use and doesn't currently exist or at least doesn't broadly exist in an easily usable form. Then Apple goes out and buys, develops or partners with a company to develop technologies that make that product work or work better. The company then evaluates the product before shipping it, deciding if the product is really something people would use. Rarely does the company have a change of heart about the basic product, but sometimes products get killed because the result doesn't really work in a way the customer would like it. For example, if a product doesn't work smoothly, it may be delayed until faster processors come along. The G5 MacBook Pro was fully developed and then killed because (among some other issues) the battery life was so short no one would find it useful.
And that's why Apple products usually ship, because they were designed to ship from day 0. Philips products started out being made simply because they could be, and so many of them died on the vine when it was realized no one wanted them or even if they just can't convince any product division they would like to ship that product.
Sources: I know people who worked at Philips. I have worked at Apple. And I've talked to these Philips people and Tony Fadell specifically about these particular differences between Philips and Apple."