One of the most important of Agile principles is to organise projects round self-motivating individuals. It never ceases to amaze me how well projects can be rescued in this way. Of course ideally the self-motivated individuals should be there at the start, but sometimes people are far more inspired by solving problems than avoiding them to start with. Having both skills is difficult as it is more about a state of mind, rather than tangible skill sets.
The phrase that always makes me wince is “I can do more with less code”. Translates as “I can code fine, until there’s a problem”. OK, a little brutal, unfortunately the phrase is associated with lazy development (developers). Modern development langauges provide a lot of helper apps and features that make it quicker and easier to code. That is not necessarily a bad thing – The concepts of using components over objects, in programming, is part of the evolution.
But it can be done badly. And majorly. You can’t have developers who only understand their programming environment from component perspective, as issue diagnosis will involve lower level understanding. Developers like this can uffer from severe copy/paste syndrome which can result in bloated application impossible to maintain. These projects need a re-factoring approach to fix (if project is not just dumped, scapegoat usually being QA or Project Management, never development).
So where do self-motivating individuals come in? It is probably better to clarify what distinguishes a self-motivated individual. In a developers, it is being very skilled at coding, very skilled at communicating and drives the team towards his/her way of thinking. The real trick here is that they can also listen and are prepared to learn themselves. Too much arrogance is not a positive quality. It is important for the other developers to push back otherwise your nice Agile team ends up as a dictatorship. Decisions should be by consensus. A developer of this nature could run the entire project, not optimally, but could get the job done with at the very least, a quality application.
You don’t have to try that hard to organise this setup. Find that individual and you will find people gravitate towards them naturally.