Thursday 2017-01-19

“The more you know, the less you need.”
-- Yvon Chouinard

And inversely: the less you know, the more you need.

The reason they have a reputation as rockstars is that they can apply this productivity to things that really matter; they’re able to pick out the really important parts of the problem and then focus their efforts there, so that the end result ends up being much more impactful than what the SWE3 wrote. The SWE3 may spend his time writing a bunch of unit tests that catch bugs that wouldn’t really have happened anyway, or migrating from one system to another that isn’t really a large improvement, or going down an architectural dead end that’ll just have to be rewritten later.

Jeff or Sanjay (or any of the other folks operating at that level) will spend their time running a proposed API by clients to ensure it meets their needs, or measuring the performance of subsystems so they fully understand their building blocks, or mentally simulating the operation of the system before building it so they rapidly test out alternatives. They don’t actually write more code than a junior developer (oftentimes, they write less), but the code they do write gives them more information, which makes them ensure that they write the right code.

-- nostrademons
“If I appear to be always ready to reply to everything it is because before undertaking anything I have meditated for a long time. I have foreseen what might happen. It is not a spirit which suddenly reveals to me what I have to say or do in a circumstance unexpected by others. It is a reflection, a meditation.”
-- Np. Bonaparte

That said, Bonaparte wasn't one of the great planners; he could not foresee where his ambition would lead him.