The famed 10x developer

2016-01-24 2 min read

    If you’re in the software engineering world you’ve probably heard of the 10x developer. They’re an order of magnitude more productive than everyone else and can make all sorts of problems go away. The 10x number is completely arbitrary but I’ve worked with numerous developers who were notably more productive than others. A big part of it is just being able to write more code - a combination of knowing the right tools for the job and moving quickly while avoiding mistakes. But a bigger part in the productivity comes from making the appropriate decisions that are able to stand the test of time. If your code needs rewriting every time a new feature comes out it’s going to be tough to be as productive as someone whose code can be easily expanded and maintained as the product evolves. Great developers make design decisions that are able to solve the immediate problem but also leave a clear path for the improvements that will inevitably come. If you know what’s coming in a couple of months or in a year it’s simple to account for it in the current design but the real skill comes in being able to think of the unanticipated cases and be able to support them with minimal effort. Beyond that some choices end up unlocking opportunities that would have been difficult to fathom in the first place. Imagine coming up with an elegant implementation that solves an urgent problem and a couple of months later you realize that with minimal tweaking that implementation can turn into something that is transformative to the product. It’s impossible to think through every decision since you’ll end up stuck in a world of “analysis paralysis” but great engineers either have a gut feel or enough experience to make these high leverage decisions more frequently than others.