Oct 28, 2013

What is a 10X engineer?

The 10x Engineer

"However, as to the 10x engineer, I can cite plenty of anecdotal evidence: while recognizing that this is not scientific, nor an attempt to establish the fact scientifically. Using a concrete example to think about has a lot of positives advantages; keeping our ideas tied to reality being one of the most important!

At one client we had a Programmer/Analyst, Bill, we'll call him, who designed and wrote detailed specifications for approximately 60% of the modules to be developed. The remaining 40% were divvied up between the other 8 team members. And the complexity of the 60% was far in excess of anything found in the other 40%. Bill's were basically the crucial accounting and financials portion, while the rest were less important ancillary functions. Nice to have, but unessential. I got one of these areas -- how to monitor the Oil and Natural gas production relative to the lease provisions and actual cost of production.

That's pretty close to an order of magnitude more work being performed by Bill than by the rest of us. This was borne out by the programming staff who were ramped up on each team to code the final product. Bill's team was close to 20 or 25 (it's hard to specify exactly, because team size is not a constant value in most projects; they expand and contract). The other teams all put together amounted to about the same."
It’s an engineer who is, in theory, ten times as productive as a “normal” engineer. That’s mostly hyperbole, a particularly skilled engineer/developer/etc is going to be more efficient because of their knowledge, experience and abilities, but almost certainly they are not going to actually accomplish ten times what an average person in their field would do in the same amount of time. There may be a very, very few super talented people who could fit the literal definition, but not many. They are the white buffaloes of the modern world - nearly mythical creatures.

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