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I thing part of the mythology about the 10x engineer stems from the very real and shockingly widespread existence of the NNPP or the "Net Negative Producing Programmer".

There are many environments in which NNPP's are pretty much the standard, programmers that produce more problems and bugs than actual working and sustainable solutions.

In such an environment any competent developer will quickly stand out and will easily be labelled as a "x-times engineer", when all they actually are is just good at their job where others fail miserably.

The 10x myth is a way to give a positive spin on the shockingly common incompetence in our field.




I like the way Mike Church put it in a Quora answer (http://qr.ae/NHgRJ): employees are either multipliers, adders (most common), subtracters, or dividers (fire immediately). Whether multipliers are 5x or 10x more productive is a matter of nebulous metrics, but there are obvious standouts whose presence brings a very nonlinear increase in value to the team.


The four-types classification reminds me of a semi-famous saying by a German general, Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_von_Hammerstein-Equord):

I divide my officers into four groups. There are clever, diligent, stupid, and lazy officers. Usually two characteristics are combined. Some are clever and diligent -- their place is the General Staff. The next lot are stupid and lazy -- they make up 90 percent of every army and are suited to routine duties. Anyone who is both clever and lazy is qualified for the highest leadership duties, because he possesses the intellectual clarity and the composure necessary for difficult decisions. One must beware of anyone who is stupid and diligent -- he must not be entrusted with any responsibility because he will always cause only mischief.


And yet if you look at high school students homework load, it seems bent on producing stupid AND diligent people...


hah, for the "stupid and diligent" programmer, i imagine someone who copy+paste a million lines of if statements, or write, ala http://thedailywtf.com/Articles/Laborious-Transitions.aspx


This hits close to home currently working as an enterprise web dev.




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