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Such anecdotes are very difficult to evaluate. Suppose I told you I met 10X engineers. But that doesn't mean these individuals are really 10X engineers, merely that I believe they are. (Do you believe everything I believe? If you learned my politics, you may very well believe I'm a lunatic. So why believe any other observations I make of people?)

What would help is a reasonable study of them. Upon identifying these 10X'ers, does anyone analyze/interview them, their coworkers and managers? Dissect their team dynamics, like we analyze sports teams?

Can we empower people to become 10X'ers? Maybe it's not the 10X'ers themselves, but the happy co-incidence of person and institution? Do these 10X'ers merely thrive where others are miserable, like they enjoy boss-subordination or talk so much that others get bored, so they look great in relative terms? Does their job mandate Java, and they secretly use a high-level compiler which outputs readable Java? (I know someone who did this; seemed anal about indentation.) Do they initiate projects, and others basically maintain their quick 'n dirty designs?

This article isn't denying the possibility of isolating 10X engineers. Merely that the usual mental framework, which includes the "10X engineer" concept, has problems. Consider pre-Galilean frameworks which said everything comes to rest. Galileo's framework of frictionless surfaces seems absurd; when's the last time you touched a frictionless surface? In this sense, the old explanations seem more applicable to reality. Yet counter-intuitively, denying reality helped us discover more useful models. Do we necessarily want models which focus so much on 10X individuals, when that's not an ultimate goal?




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