People & Process

Forget the 10x developer — focus on the 10x team

1 min read
A group of engineering managers is the background for a slide title that says 'Forget the 10x developer - focus on the 10x team'.

I spoke recently at the DevNxt conference, a boutique conference held in Dunedin, New Zealand focused on the people side of technology. The below is adapted from that talk.

The trope of the “10x engineer” is alive and well – and so is the debate about whether they’re even real.

This concept came from 1968 research on “Exploratory Experimental Studies Comparing Online and Offline Programming Performance” by Sackman, Erikson, and Grant. In brief, this research claimed that some developers were ten times more productive than others, based on measures including program execution speed. 

In the decades since, the debate has raged on about whether these people are real or just a myth. (Search for “10x developer on Reddit, HackerNews, and Twitter for a few examples.) 

In this talk, I share why I think the focus on “10x engineers” has led us astray, why we should focus instead on the 10x team, and some actions you can take to help your team become 10x (hint: it’s about combining high expectations with high support).

(When I get time, I’ll come back and write out the talk here in more detail – so watch this space!)

Click the image below to see the slides from the talk:

A group of engineering managers is the background for a slide title that says 'Forget the 10x developer - focus on the 10x team'.
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Lauren Peate
Lauren Peate
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