People who are having fun at what they’re doing, deliver better results (e.g. higher quality, work faster). So when a developer tells you “I’d love to use FizzBuzz Framework” or “I hate doing XYZ”, take it seriously. Don’t underestimate the Developer Fun Factor (DFF).

A task that is detested (a negative DFF) by your team members leads to:

  • Longer resolution times caused by a lack of focus.
  • A task becoming a “hot potato”, sitting on your backlog for a looooong time. Since Bob is going to fix it, right?
  • An aura of negativity surrounding the task, causing overestimation (although this might not be so bad).
  • Lower quality.

On the other hand, a task with a positive DFF gives you:

  • Higher quality.
  • People are more concentrated on the task, so it might be solved more quickly.
  • It’s solved faster.

Stimulating the Developer Fun Factor

The key for a positive DFF is to get people engaged in what they’re doing. How do you get your developers engaged? Here are the things I’ve used throughout the years:

The Playground

Give people a chance to do what they like to do. If you’re not sure what they like, just ask them.

Set the goal, let your team determine the way

As a leader, you set the goal (“where are we going”), but let your team determine how to achieve that (“how do we get there”). When you’re determining both, you’re micromanaging. Micromanaging is killing for engagement and doesn’t scale.

Proper tools

Give your team the proper tools to work with: I hate having to use my crappy cordless screwdriver, but I love drilling holes in the walls using my Makita drill. Having the proper equipment makes a task much more pleasurable.

Be enthousiastic

If you don’t like what you’re doing, who will? Have fun!

What if it doesn’t work?

On good days your team might just produce less or lower quality, but it might become worse: quitting your team or company.

Keep asking yourself: what did I do to create a fun, engaging environment? Where did I lack?