In my experience, the thing that has the most significant impact on a movie’s budget–but never shows up in a budget–is morale. [what’s true for a movie is true for a startup!] If you have low morale, for every $1 you spend, you get about 25 cents of value. If you have high morale, for every $1 you spend, you get about $3 of value. Companies should pay much more attention to morale.
I’ve had this quote pretty much plastered in my subconscious for the past month. It’s from Brad Bird, the guy who directed The Incredibles. You can read more from the interview over at Om’s site.
You could replace “movie” with “project” or “product” and I think it’s still true. It’s next to impossible to motivate an team with crappy morale. It’s like trying to light a campfire in the rain with just matches. Having a high-morale team is like lighting a campfire covered in kerosene. You just need a match, and then stand back.