The mythical 10x engineer is said to have the efficiency and output of 10 normal engineers. While their existence has been debated, I have actually worked with a couple 10xers over the course of my career.
As Santa Claus proclaimed in the undying M&Ms Christmas commercial: “They do exist!”
But before you get too exicted about their existence, I have some bad news to bear: working with this type of 10x engineer isn’t all that great. Who is going to review all the code this engineer just cranked out? All of a sudden you have an imbalance. You now either have team members spending much of their time reviewing a 10xer’s code (no fun) or you start piling up a backlog of pull requests authored by a single person.
So if this type of 10x engineer isn’t all that helpful, is there a type that is helpful? Yes! A looser definition of 10x engineering also includes engineers that are capable of technical depth and discovery very quickly. They can evaluate a complex feature for which there is no prior art in your code base and come up with an elegant solution quickly. The nuance here is about cognitive load rather than lines of code.