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I have come to see "10x" as a toxic term, very close to a red flag in terms of company culture, in this matter I humbly invite you to read 8 things to look for in your next hire instead of a 10x engineer I hope it helps you on your search.



What is 10x? The Fullstack (one man army)? or Leader of Team of 10 developers? Remember Team is stronger than one man army.


The specific multiple of '10' is highly dubious and not very useful. In many cases seeing that term will be a red flag. It's also common that those that think of themselves in that way might be flying through their work creating technical debt and bugs that will surface later.

There is some underlying truth to the concept though. Some programmers are much more productive and have a far greater than average knowledge of their domain.

Like John Carmack for game dev, Taylor Otwell of Laravel, or Evan You of Vue some really are multiples more productive than the average developer in their field.


It just so happens I was looking at the statistics for my "What type of software developer are you?" quiz, and out of 5k people who took the quiz, the conclusion is what I assumed: We each have strengths and weaknesses, but none of us are perfect. The quiz is meant to help you identify which of the 12 heroic developers best describes you. While I'm heavily biased as the author, I believe the 12 types are an improvement over the 10x/ninja/rockstar/unicorns/elves designations.


It's a counterproductive myth. The way my mentor explained it to me is as follows. There are regularly productive developers then there are people who are not able to be productive. This can be because of a huge number of reasons. It could be because of culture and bureaucracy and bad tooling and bad processes and waterfall and endless yak shaving and high staff turnover due to low pay etc etc. It is really easy to create a software shop where most people are unproductive.

In such environments some small number of people are still productive and get ten times more done than average. Yet what they did would be average in an environment where everyone was motivated and unblocked. These are hailed as ”10x” and rather than fix why everyone else is demotivated and blocked it is easier to blame the people and say that you must hire unicorns. That is why it is a counterproductive myth: as the real solution is to create an environment where everyone can be productive. It is the ”0.1x” environment that is the actual challenge.

Note i am not saying everyone has the same skill or aptitude or ability. What I am talking about is “10k compared to peers” where a peer has similar aptitude and ability. I have had the privilege to have had folks work for me who are stunning smart. Yet its more on “big ideas” and design and communication where that really tells. That stuff makes everyone else in the team more productive. Cranking out code is something regularly productive programmer can be good at and really smart people should (mostly) be cranking out code everyone else can use or maintain. Sure i want to be working with smart and motivated people but they are not “10x” they are just “1x plus smart”.

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Ark Shraier profile image
thinks that he's desingineer enjoying Ruby on Rails 😉