Are Google software engineers really doing…

Are Google software engineers really doing…

I’ve been developing SW at google for 15 years now, though mostly not with the job title of “software engineer” but rather as a senior tech manager (“uber tech lead”, was the monicker for that) or as a senior-staff “technical solutions engineer” (whatever that may mean: it changes by the group/team/area, and by the year).

I would say that maybe 1/10th of my coding time over these 15 years was “extraordinary” — inventing and deploying stuff such as provably-auditable data access, getting 10x the performance of an existing system by drastically different architectures, fully automating platform-migration tasks which had taken 100s of hours of toil from highly skilled pros down to single-digit hours of checks and edits (by the same pros) that the automation had been working just right.

The other 9/10th’s of my coding time may have been what you tag as “trivial” — writing huge amounts of tests (I’m fanatical about testing), refactoring code to improve quality (another fanatic focus of mine), debugging and fixing bugs, &c. I do believe that my fanatical focus areas have saved tens of hours of work by some other engineer for every hour I spent on such toil… and apparently so does my employer given my mostly pretty-good perf reviews over 15 years. Yeah, most any competent SW eng might have done those jobs if tasked to do them, but, I “tasked myself” and did it in maybe 1/10th the time a rookie might have needed — which I think justifies my very senior status, as I don’t make 10 times as much as a rookie:-)

I believe this matches Edison’s quote “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.”, even though I’m very far from genius (I know, since I’ve been lucky enough over my 40 years’ career to work closely with quite a few geniuses, and I can tell the difference!-), i.e., I believe the quote applies to “impactful knowledge-work” at senior, skilled, but WAY sub-genius levels, too!-)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these <abbr title="HyperText Markup Language">HTML</abbr> tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>