The Key to Becoming a Better Software Engineer

Introducing the influencer engineer.

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

Facebook’s internal code management tool reveals that the engineers who write the most influential code end up communicating the most across the company. These engineers naturally become influencers.

An influencer engineer solves technical problems and affects organizational change. So, what can a company do to foster influencer engineers?

Arturo Bejar gives the manager’s perspective. “Facebook tries to create an environment where anyone can feel empowered to tackle large problems, even if they are brand new to the company. When you come out of boot camp, you are given enough problem space to work on to demonstrate your maximum capabilities. If you try and fail, that’s OK.”

At some companies, it takes years to earn the right to work on something interesting. But Facebook gives engineers room to be ambitious, regardless of their skill level.

As a manager at Facebook, Arturo saw many engineers develop their skills rapidly. “When you give engineers a big chance to prove themselves, you can get really strong engineers really fast. You give them freedom, you give them responsibility, and you give them feedback.”

A hungry engineer can choose to rise to the level of responsibility they’ve been given. They can choose to respond well to coaching. If they do, they can have an impact. And an engineer who has impact can become an influencer.

Influencer engineers not only build new software. They evangelize how to use that software within the company. Influencer engineers can spread their ideas in different ways. Some influencer engineers do public speaking within the company, while some write documentation or internal blog posts.

A clique will form around an influencer engineer. Influencers can win over the hearts and minds of other engineers, single-handedly changing the technical direction of a company for better or worse.

Whilst you are waiting for Move Fast: How Facebook Builds Software, learn more about how you can protect your passwords.