This morning @JohnMacIntyre wrote a blog post entitled Timing your exit by the reception of your gifts. While I agree with his point, I thought it might be valuable to provide my perspective on why those gifts may or may not be appreciated by their intended recipient in at least one market.
When a company sees development as a profit centre, then the little gifts are appreciated. There is added value in the product and the savings/revenues generated by the product are immediately reflected upon. This view is frequently seen by companies who are having a good time financially and are seeking to extend the benefit of their good fortune or by companies where development is the core of their business model - i.e. sale of software in some form.
However most companies writing software aren't in the market of selling that software, they're writing it for their own use internally. When a company like this falls on hard times, management frequently reverts to considering development as a cost centre. As pressure mounts and politics set in, managers have to fight harder for the recognition they deserve and in other cases to save face and avoid retribution. They start to point fingers to divert attention away from themselves when they’re asked to account for their shortcomings.
At this point, it doesn’t matter how many value added extras are included in your software if all of the core objectives aren’t completely in order. Those trying to divert the spotlight from themselves will divert it on you, just to get it off themselves.
I digress, my point was this: The minute you start to see development as a cost centre, you cease to consider the value added benefits and immediately view them as a time sink.
Consequently I think the level of appreciation of these gifts boils down to one question: Is the development department looked at as a profit centre or a cost centre within the company?
The answer to this should drive your approach to your workload and hence the company’s perception of your benefit to them.
If it’s looked upon as a profit centre, and you do nothing beyond meeting the core objectives, you’ll be seen as someone who does no more or less than asked – to your benefit or detriment, whichever you decide.
If it’s looked upon as a cost centre and you are always going above and beyond to provide extras that aren’t necessary, then you’ll be looked at as a time waster who can’t focus on the goal.