In the world of software, the hourly mode is what your outsourcing provider in India operates from to bill 12 hours a day, copying/pasting the code from StackOverflow for your dream app.
The solutions mode is what a mindful programmer operates from when he synchronizes your scattered thoughts and comes up with app functions that bring paying users and, thus, profits to your app in an hour or two.
Inputs measure the hourly mode: long hours worked, more graphics designed, more documents created, more lines of code written, and long client calls attended … if the app fails, it fails, but the work carried out will always be there to justify the failure.
The output measures the solutions mode: the app’s success in the market. No matter how great the quality of your code is, it is useless if the app does not bring measurable success.
The solutions-mode does not give unnecessary importance to unimportant things. ~ Find out more
For the solutions mode to work, the programmer has to “get” the greater application of his software engineering efforts in the market. Unfortunately, most universities don’t teach that as a part of the engineering curriculum.
Many people and companies shy away from the solutions mode because of its inherent risk. The solutions mode might not bring you enough money to pay your bills if you cannot find the (relevant) solutions.
The hourly mode is easy … you just show up, do mediocre work within a framework, and cannot fail, although the whole project or the project’s product might.
The solutions mode is scary … where just showing up is not enough … there has to be a real value in what you produce, or you are no longer required.
The hourly mode has a structure, a framework to shift you away from the fault line if the possibility of fault arises.
The hourly mode has a structure to blame.
The solutions mode, on the other hand, does not come with a structure or a framework.
If the fault arises, it is up to you how you solve it!
Of course, some frameworks may help in the solution identification and delivery process, but no one is to blame if the structure or the framework fails.
And that’s the beauty of it.
The hourly mode benefits you when your client is unaware or, to be precise, less aware than he should be. For example, I have observed some companies continue the hourly mode for as long as ten years until they realize it was the most ineffective way to maintain their 44 different lines of products with their outsourcing provider…
And when they realize this, they look for a programmer or a company willing to work with the solutions mode. Still, they find it difficult to locate such a programmer or a company for a simple reason: It does not seem to have competition in this hyper-competitive market because people are busy working with the hourly-mode approach.
It is really up to you which mode to operate from. Know that each mode comes with its own set of consequences.
So, choose your work mode and choose your consequences.
PS: Some people work on a fixed price, fixed scope project in hourly mode … nothing is more pathetic than that for both the parties involved.
PPS: While this post has relevance in software engineering, the behavioral part of it applies to non-software work.