The 10X Engineer is Not a Myth

The one thing most experienced engineers agree on.

The mythical 10x engineer is not a myth.

- Nick Schrock, Ex-Facebook Engineer

In the following excerpt from Move Fast: How Facebook Builds Software, coming out July 6, I discuss what it takes to become a 10x engineer.

A modern trope of software engineering is the idea of the “10x engineer.”

A 10x engineer is someone who has ten times the impact of an average engineer. Some engineers believe that the “10x engineer” is a myth. But most experienced engineers I have spoken to agree that 10x engineering is a real phenomenon.

Nick Schrock is serious about software engineering. His default expression is one of intense focus, whether he is looking at a whiteboard diagram or looking directly into your eyes, his brain processing your words with scrutiny. Nick’s flair of stylish blonde hair belies the disposition of a football coach: gruff, tough, and unafraid to give you the cold hard truth.

“Engineering is a creative endeavor. And like any creative endeavor, there is a huge, wide dynamic range of capability,” says Nick. “The mythical 10x engineer is not a myth. I think there are 10x engineers, and those 10x engineers naturally become influential. These people understand the needs of the other developers. They build infrastructure that other developers can then use to be productive, and this causes a multiplier effect. Engineers are often 10x because they are leveling up the other engineers through their code.”

Not only does Nick believe in the 10x engineer—he believes in something else: the influencer engineer.

“The influencers within the company are not Instagram models. The influencers are the engineers who actually write important code. Through their code, their actions, and their discussions, these engineers can convince other people to do stuff. They are influencer engineers.”

So how does a normal engineer become an influencer engineer? The answer is simple: code wins arguments.

Code is indisputable. When an engineer wants to prove something technical, they can make their point by solving a problem with code or creating a useful abstraction. Code is a shareable artifact. Public code review makes it easy to tell who is making the smart engineering decisions.

Influence is built through reputation, and code commit history is an unambiguous measure of reputation.

While you are waiting for Move Fast: How Facebook Builds Software, learn about how you can protect your accounts from hackers.