The hourly-mode is what your outsourcing provider in India (or Pakistan or Bangladesh or Ukraine) operates from to bill 12 hours a day copy/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/software in an hour or two.
The hourly-mode is measured by inputs: long hours worked, more graphics designed, more documents created, more lines of code written, long client calls attended … if the app fails, fails but the work carried out would always be there to justify the failure.
The solutions-mode is measured by the output: the app’s success in the market. No matter how great the quality of your code was, it is of no use if the app did 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.
A lot of 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 are not able to 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 product of the project 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 there is no one to blame if the structure or the framework fails.
And that’s the beauty of it.
The hourly-mode brings the benefits to you when your client is unaware or to be precise, less-aware than what he should. For example, I have observed some companies continue the hourly-mode for as long as 10 years until they realize that hourly mode was the most ineffective way to maintain their 44 different lines of products with their outsourcing provider…
And when they realize, they look for a programmer, or a company, who is willing to work with the solutions-mode but 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, chose 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 as well.