, 8 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
This person has received a ton of crap. But what’s more important is that he doesn’t realize that the culture of software teams is changing. Not only is that type of engineer not welcome anymore, neither is that type of manager who coddles them and makes excuses.
The problem with pattern matching and leaning on stereotypes is that it’s harder for you to realize when the environment is changing around you. You’re allowing someone else to do your thinking for you. But what if the decisions they made don’t apply anymore in your situation?
Your job as a manager is to build a team that can reliably solve the problems that the business needs solved. In the past, managers have abdicated that work to the “lone genius” who doesn’t really listen to them anyway. That’s not managing, that’s horse betting.
Let alone the risk factor. What if that person is not a great programmer and they’ve just adopted the stereotypical trappings of what you think that is? Paul Graham famously suggested he can be fooled by anybody who looks like Mark Zuckerberg. And so can a lot of managers.
Meanwhile these stereotypes are harmful. Both to the people they do apply to, and to all of the engineers who don’t fit this mold. This is exactly what marginalization and gatekeeping look like. Exactly this. This is why we can’t have nice things.
There’s another thing here that’s less obvious though. This attitude around “10x engineers” has always been exploitative. It essentially suggests if you find a person who compulsively writes code, you should go out of your way to point them at your problems and reap that benefit.
They don’t have to work with other people or talk about what they’re doing. They don’t have to respect their coworkers or help them out. The advice is essentially to create a comfortable sweatshop and see if this person produces something gold.
Most people were disgusted by the thought of this kind of engineer. But I think even that person is redeemable with the right kind of manager. I’m more disgusted by managers who so casually suggest this kind of greedy exploitation of those who work for them.
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