I'll take a teammate over a 10x programmer every time

Brad Pauly — January 19, 2015

Whether "10x programmers" exist or not doesn't matter to me. The reason I wouldn't choose a 10x programmer is that it defines a person's role only in terms of productivity. It's like saying I want to turbo boost my car without any consideration for the rest of the vehicle. I want to work with teammates, not 10x programmers.

A teammate is, by definition, part of a team. That might seem overly obvious, but I think it's important to remember. A team works together toward a common goal. The members of a team have different roles and specialties, but they still work together. As a programmer myself, my role is mostly about writing software. Hopefully that software will move us closer to the overall goal. If it takes me 10 days to write a piece of software and it takes someone else one day is that person better to have on the team?

Productivity is a small part of a big picture

Productivity is important, I think that's a given. You have to get things done. If you never ship anything you definitely won't make progress toward the goal. The bigger picture includes softer skills.

What happens when things don't go as planned? Good times are great, but they're also easy. How do you get through conflict? The people I want to work with are the ones that come together when times are tough. They help each other. They want the team to succeed. They want to be a part of the team.

Looking beyond tomorrow

Again, assuming that the software is actually written, what else is important? I want a team, and business that is built to last. So, what happens in the future? What if the 10x'er is no longer on the team? Can anyone else understand what they've built? And what happens between now and the future? Am I learned anything? Am I contributing to anyone else's learning?

Could a 10x programmer be a good team member? Probably, but being a a good teammate comes first. 10x is just icing.


I'm always looking for new topics to write about. Stuck on a problem or working on something interesting? You can reach me on Twitter @bradpauly or send me an email.