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The 10x programmer is a myth

andrewlucker profile image Andrew Lucker Originally published at on ・1 min read

But the 1/10 programmer is real.

There are only 24 hours in a day, and that is the same for everyone. That is what I thought to myself when I studied in the backwaters. That is what got me in the door at competitive employment opportunities. That is how I make my living today.

There are only 24 hours in a day, but how you use your time is up to you. Most developers work hard and put in long hours at times. There is little to gain as a developer aiming to 10x by just working harder and longer than others. This is where the 1/10 developing comes in: there is not much to gain by overclocking, but efficiency is more or less unlimited.

There are only a handful of people throughout my career that I have worked with and would call 10x. The one trait that they hold in common is not that they type faster, it is rather than they don’t get blocked and lose time. Even when taking on harder problems, being able to efficiently diagnose and treat the problem is a hallmark of 1/10x thinking.

So next time you hear someone talk of 10x programming, try rethinking that phrase into a fraction. Once you get the algebra right, it starts to make more sense, and becoming a 1/10x developer becomes possible.

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Discussion (5)

elmuerte profile image
Michiel Hendriks

According to Robert L. Glass in Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering it's more like 28x.

The best programmers are up to 28 times better than the worst programmers.

andrewdtanner profile image
Andrew Tanner 🇪🇺

Can someone explain to me why such a term as '10x' exists and I only see it in the context of development? We're not the only ones who put long hours and great work in. Genuinely curious why this is such a thing in development...

skilld18 profile image
Russell Dunk

Because programming scales so well. Take a real world comparison say you have a person digging a ditch. If they work as hard and fast as they possibly can they might finish twice as fast. As a programmer if I find an n^2 algorithm and make it run in n, that code, for 1000 inputs runs 1000 times faster. The 10x idea exists not because we are smarter or work harder but because good code is so much better than bad code.

andrewdtanner profile image
Andrew Tanner 🇪🇺

That makes sense... but the term still doesn't sit well with me. It sounds... too abstract. Totally get where you're coming from though :) Thanks!

ghost profile image

There is a book called "The 10x Rule" by Grant Cardone. Good reading btw, but I'm not sure it's connected)

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