I agree that in some cases, the 'standard' is convoluted and contains edge cases that make it nearly impossible to render OpenXML documents 100% accurately, however, it is quite possible to produce valid OpenXML documents using any decent programming tools.
As far as standards that are a "complicated mess", I really don't need to look much past HTML / CSS. The scope of what HTML can do is supposed to be much less than the entire Office suite of software, however, there are still major incompatibilities and unsupported features for all browsers. (of course, IE is a a major source of issues, but Safari does make me want to cry sometimes)
What I have come to realize, though, is that it is not just the IT departments that feel this way. In general, there are some people in every department, of every company that belive that their performance would improve if only they had a greater measure of self-determination. Perhaps the number of people who feel this way is highest in IT, but it is certainly not exclusive to IT.
So what it comes down to, I feel, is that we are slowly drifting towards a business culture where the individual has more control over their job, and where sucess is measured by job satisfaction instead of economics.
At least, that's the direction I hope we are heading in.
Say what you like about the Sanyo, it is a pretty terrible looking bike, but the gocycle is definately as ugly, if not worse. On top of that, the gocycle looks like it would break in half if it ever hit a speed bump.
This is how I develop, and it works very well. My peers and managers are happy, because I am productive. I am happy because I don't feel like I'm procrastinating for long periods. Too much 'sitting on your hands' is boring, it makes the days drag on, and is not really helping you write good code. For me, that is what job satisfaction is all about.
The means-and-ends moralists, or non-doers, always end up on their ends without any means. -- Saul Alinsky