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Lies we tell ourselves: the 10xEngineer

By: Chris Greacen - 03/08/2023

The Lab Zero team has seen plenty of the good, the bad, and the ugly in the years we've been working in the software development world.

In this and the next couple videos, I'll talk about the 'bad' highlighting some of the lies we tell ourselves. First on my list is the 10x engineer/developer - a mythical creature sought by many.

Have you worked with a 10x engineer/developer? What was your experience?

    Hey, this is Chris with Lab Zero. In my last video I mentioned that the Lab Zero team has seen 'The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly' in working on software product development over the years. And in this and the next couple videos I want to talk about 'The Ugly' - and specifically The Lies We Tell ourselves in the software product world.

    The first lie I'll talk about is the 10x engineer. Perhaps you've heard it? The Lie goes something like this: the 10x engineer is an individual who will come join your team and do 10 times the work of a normal mortal. They will spray ten times the lines of code all over your source code repository. They will move 10 times the tickets... And um we know that to be a lie, right?

    Let's talk about the truth. The truth is: these are well-rounded individuals who can think clearly about complex problems. They are very unlikely to solve a problem with software, unless it's really clear that there's a solution there. They want to write just enough software, with just enough quality so that the problem gets solved - and they don't have to get a page in the middle of the night or get called into work on the weekend (or whatever, remotely).

    The 10x developers that I know have people skills. And they are just as likely to be able to get a group of people together to solve a complex problem as they are able to do anything on their own.

    They have no pride in the amount of code that they deliver, or the amount of lines of code that they check into a repository. If anything, quite the opposite! They're going to be proud of the lines of code that they removed from a repository. They want to be known as the people who are taking out the unused stuff -- refactoring to make simple and clear all of those parts of the application which are critical and important to your business.

    These are people who do not want to save your company. They're going to look at the need for heroics as a problem. Frankly, your plan should be working. The fact that they have those skills -- great. But they don't want to be pulling those things out all day, every day, on the weekend, and at the night.

    Have you worked with 10x developers over the years? What is your experience in working with them? Share your notes or your comments below. I would love to hear from you!

    Oh, and call out anything that you think is baloney that I just told you I'll follow this up with some other 'Lies That We Tell Ourselves' soon so stay tuned.

    Thanks, this is Chris with Lab Zero!

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