Here's a sign of how much programmers like to be able to work hard: these guys would have paid to be able to release code immediately, the way they used to. I asked them if they'd trade 10% of the acquisition price for the ability to release code immediately, and all three instantly said yes. Then I asked what was the maximum percentage of the acquisition price they'd trade for it. They said they didn't want to think about it, because they didn't want to know how high they'd go, but I got the impression it might be as much as half.
They'd have sacrificed hundreds of thousands of dollars, perhaps millions, just to be able to deliver more software to users. And you know what? It would have been perfectly safe to let them. In fact, the acquirer would have been better off; not only wouldn't these guys have broken anything, they'd have gotten a lot more done. So the acquirer is in fact getting worse performance at greater cost. Just like the committee approving software purchases.
And just as the greatest danger of being hard to sell to is not that you overpay but that the best suppliers won't even sell to you, the greatest danger of applying too many checks to your programmers is not that you'll make them unproductive, but that good programmers won't even want to work for you.
Steve Jobs's famous maxim "artists ship" works both ways. Artists aren't merely capable of shipping. They insist on it. So if you don't let people ship, you won't have any artists.