From Engineer To Where?

Ian Thomas | @anatomic | TechEdge 1.1




In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to their level of incompetence.

The Peter Principle

In time, every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out its duties.

Peter's Corollary


I am a good sergeant; I might easily make a bad captain, and certainly an even worse general. One knows from experience.

Army Sergeant - Gotthold Ephraim Lessing's 1763 play, Minna von Barnhelm

Gladwell's 10,000 hours

The concept can be traced back to Anders Ericsson, a professor at the University of Colorado, and his paper The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance

ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness.

There is a lot of confusion about the 10,000 rule that I talk about in Outliers. It doesn't apply to sports. And practice isn't a SUFFICIENT condition for success. I could play chess for 100 years and I'll never be a grandmaster. The point is simply that natural ability requires a huge investment of time in order to be made manifest. 

P=0.6(T-l) \text{ where } T=37.5 \text{ and } l=5
P=0.6(Tl) where T=37.5 and l=5P=0.6(T-l) \text{ where } T=37.5 \text{ and } l=5
P=19.5 \text { hours deliberate practice per week }
P=19.5 hours deliberate practice per week P=19.5 \text { hours deliberate practice per week }

How much deliberate practice do we achieve per week?

\( P \) can vary significantly based on efficiency (i.e. how many meetings do you have in a week?)

There are roughly 45 weeks worked per year

10,000 \div 19.5 = 512.8\,weeks
10,000÷19.5=512.8 weeks10,000 \div 19.5 = 512.8\,weeks
\therefore 518.2\div45\approx11.5\, years
518.2÷4511.5 years\therefore 518.2\div45\approx11.5\, years

~2 years

~1 year

~5 years

Clearly, this is pseudo-science

But the underlying principles are sound

We have to create alternate career paths to enable technical colleagues to achieve "world class"

And it may mean they don't achieve "senior" until several years into their career




Tech Lead/

Lead Software Engineer

What Comes After Tech Lead?



Ensure our teams have the right balance of experience

Raise the overall maturity of software engineering

Provide clear development and progression for engineering specialists

set realistic expectations for engineers and managers

ValUE Patience.

It takes time to get good at something and everyone needs to acknowledge that.

From Engineer To Where?

Ian Thomas | @anatomic | TechEdge 1.1

Adam Hepton - Engineering Manager @ Sky Bet

From Engineer To Where?

By Ian Thomas

From Engineer To Where?

Software Engineering is a discipline in a hurry. Career progression is often rapid, with relatively inexperienced developers rising through the ranks to support business growth and new team requirements. Malcolm Gladwell said that "ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness" so how can we ensure our career paths allow engineers to hit this magic number without having to jump into management in the name of progression?

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