April 30, 2007
The book Moneyball describes how the Oakland A’s used a rational analysis of baseball statistics to cheaply construct a competitive major league team (book summary here). Many people have been inspired to consider if their own field can be improved by the “Moneyball” approach. To continue this trend, how would the Moneyball approach apply to software? If you believe the cliche that the best programmers are 10 times better than the average, then why aren’t companies willing to pay 10X (or 5X or even 2X) more for those guys? The problem is we don’t have public statistics on programmers, nor do we have valid statistical measures of productivity. So we have nothing so far. And that’s why it’s important to figure out some measure, however crude, that can help skim the best from the rest. Google is the only company I’m aware of that is making an attempt at doing this.