10x Engineers

The Myth. The Legend.

Johnny Ray Austin

https://recursivefunk.io

@recursivefunk

CTO Summit, 5/21/2019

Legend Has It...

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In the first quarter,

of the first year,

of the first round of funding...

(Probably a guy...)

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Breaker of Bugs

Blocker of Chains

He Who Vims

The Opinion

He will go by many names

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Scales kubernetes clusters with his thoughts

His bugs are misunderstood features

His code is phyisically unreviewable. If you look at it, and ask him a question, you'll die!

Product requirements bend to his will because the ones you came up with are "stupid"

Reported Feats of Power

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Why is This Dangerous?

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Managers Get Lazy

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Hero Culture Persists

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Heroes Breed Complacency

People Don't Debate

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Brad disagrees, and he's never wrong!

The Velocity Misconception

  • Velocity has a direction
  • Fast movement is not necessarily forward movement
    • Spend your wheels at 50 mph or move forward at 10 mph?
  • Code no one else understands or can touch

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Myth vs. Reality

How does a real 10x engineer operate?

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Not 10x more productive than anyone else on the team...

Increases the productivity of everyone else on the team!

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A Real 10x Engineer...

Doesn't Hoard Knowledge

  • Pairing
  • Tooling
  • Tech deep dives
  • Code tours
  • (Thoughtful) Code reviews

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These Duties Sound Familiar?

Every senior engineer should be a 10x engineer - period.

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Are You Perpetuating the Myth?

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You Might Be, If...

  • Consistently give your "hard" work to your "best" engineer
  • Rely on heroes to save the day
  • Job descriptions use any of these terms
    • Rock Star
    • Ninja
    • Guru

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Growing and Hiring Real 10x-ers

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Hiring

  • Job descriptions should be honest about mentoring expectations
  • Interview process should dig into this skill

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Cultural Norms

  • Rules of engagement for code reviews
  • Pairing
  • Tie knowledge-sharing to performance

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Reward the "Boring" Stuff

  • Writing docs
  • Building tooling
  • Debt payoff
  • On-boarding streamlining

Shipping features is great, but don't forget...

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Wrapping It Up

  • 10x Engineers aren't 10x more productive - they increase the productivity of others
  • The myth is dangerous and puts your business at risk
    • Create lazy managers
    • Cultivates "heroes"
    • Heroes don't scale, and they don't stick around
  • Don't perpetuate the myth!
  • All senior engineers should be 10x-ers
  • Grow and hire real 10x-ers
  • Reward the "boring" stuff

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Thanks!

@recursivefunk

10x Myth

By Johnny Ray Austin

10x Myth

The myth of the 10x developer

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