My Take on The 10X Engineer Myth

Lately the tech landscape is discussing a lot about the 10X engineer myth. It has always been a very interesting point to discuss. What makes a 10X engineer and where to find them? What’s my take on what makes a 10X engineer? Let’s see in details how I see it.

No I don’t see Rambo as the ideal 10X Engineer.

Based on my own experience, a 10X engineer is that team member that is able to perform to his maximum abilities. The engineer enables other team members to be as effective as possible in unlocking the team’s value. Here are some values that describes a 10X engineer.

First, the engineer understands what he knows well and is well aware of the areas he needs to improve. The engineer should be able to understand the problems he’s trying to solve by applying his knowledge or by asking the right questions to gain as thorough understanding of the problem. A good understanding of the problem will leads to a more effective problem solving.

Second, the engineer is able to apply the right amount of solution to the problem. Start with the simplest approach that solves the problem. Let the more complex solution comes later when needed. The first draft should solve it first. This way, the engineer does not over-engineer a solution. Instead, use that extra engineering bandwidth on other things that needs solving.

Third, the engineer has a high sense of ownership to the problem he’s solving. This way, the engineer will pay attention to the big picture as well as the details of the problem. Edge cases are often identified early by the engineer. The engineer will do things that are needed, not simply following instructions.

Fourth, the engineer is able to understand how his teammates think. Let’s face it, engineering is a team sport. When you understand how your teammate thinks, each one of you knows each other’s hindsight and can cover one another. This way, a thorough solution to a product is crafted.

Fifth, the engineer is not selfish and thinks for the good of the product and the team. If you can’t work in a team, you have a harder chance to succeed nowadays. I’m not saying that if you’re a solitary rockstar then you can’t be successful. All I am saying is working good in a team will make a product better. The goal is always how we solve the problem better. That way the user wins. It’s not about whose code is better, it should always be about how we provide the best solution. It’s nothing personal, it’s just business. The best engineers in my team are those that acts as enablers, thinking for the good of the team and the product.

Sixth, the engineer is always curious. A curious engineer will be able to always make his code better and will always strive to expand knowledge and hone the problem solving skills. When you stop being curious is usually when you think that you know better than anyone else and you’ll start going downhill from there. As engineers you will always need that technical knowledge and you always have to try to make it better. After all, engineering is a technical job.

These are the six qualities that I think is very important in achieving that 10X myth. Let me know what you think are the qualities that makes up a 10X engineers.


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