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Discussion on: The 10 points that make up real "10x engineers"

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thatjoemoore profile image
Joseph Moore • Edited

As I've matured as a developer, and having fit a few of these stereotypes myself, I've realized that the real 10x developers aren't the ones described there. It's possible that, yes, that caricature or a developer may produce more output than the rest of the team, but, at best, they generally have a slight impact on the team and, more often, I've seen them drag the team down. By cutting themselves off from the rest of the team, they negatively impact the team dynamic and often produce code that is not maintainable by anyone but themselves - but they don't want to maintain it, because that's not as fun as "real coding."

As I said, I've been that developer. Luckily, I grew out of it. I've realized that the only true 10x developer is the one who makes the whole team 10x more productive - mentoring others, sharing good ideas, accepting feedback, cleaning up code as they maintain it, writing good documentation, and making the organization the kind of social environment where people want to work. Most of the time, software development is not a single-player game, it's a team sport.

(Edit - Posted on accident before I finished typing - that's what I get for typing one-handed on my phone. The extra bit starts here.)

There's a military term that I find applies to these kinds of developers - Force Multiplier. Simply put, a force multiplier is some factor that makes a force more effective than it would be otherwise - for example, having access to satellite navigation can make a small force as effective as, say, a force 5x larger that doesn't have it.

A great developer is one who acts as a force multiplier for the team. They don't increase productivity by doing more themselves, they help everyone else be more productive.

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bdwakefield profile image
Benjamin D Wakefield

^

We really do need to kill this idea of a 10x Engineer/Developer. Associated with this idea is tons of baggage, unacceptable team behavior, etc. I think there are much better ways to foster success and grow people than accepting that we need to have a 10x-er on staff.

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kepelrs profile image

This comment is a Force Multiplier to original post. Thank you, sir.

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vintharas profile image
Jaime 🔥🧙‍♂️🔥

A great developer is one who acts as a force multiplier for the team. They don't increase productivity by doing more themselves, they help everyone else be more productive.

Spot on

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scott_yeatts profile image
Scott Yeatts

As a retired Infantryman this is exactly what force multiplier means. I actually started to reply with almost the exactly same points and then I found this comment.

I've always thought of a "10x engineer" as referring to a force multiplier, not someone who actually does 10x more work. That's not sustainable and would be a TERRIBLE person to build a codebase around. If they leave, what will you do then?

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thatjoemoore profile image
Joseph Moore

Pardon the sports metaphor, but it reminds me of the LA Lakers and Kobe Bryant. Towards the end of his career, they built the team around him. He was, admittedly, very talented, but every time he got hurt, the team fell apart.

If you compare that with the Michael Jordan-era Bulls, they were lead by an incredible player, but he was surrounded by other great players. Their dominance in the 90s was a team effort, and when Jordan briefly switched to baseball, they didn't completely fall apart. They weren't as good as they were with him, but they still did very well.

(Sports and military references in the same thread? This conversation is bringing out a different side of me.)

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phallstrom profile image
Philip Hallstrom

Hey! That's [almost] the term I use as a team lead. I went with "bonus multiplier." My output goes down, but [hopefully] my team's collectively rises and is more than it was before. Great analogy!

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n13 profile image
Nik

True helping the others get better is better than being way better.