Monday, December 15, 2008

Importance Of Being Lazy

You will not find laziness extolled as a virtue. But I am convinced that most, if not all, inventions are done by lazy people. Particularly those that are time and effort saving type inventions. I am sure when the ancient man got sick and tired of lugging his kill around, he came up with the concept of wheel. All this when his wife (mate?) was busy cooking and looking after the kids, herds of animals and the lot. Archimedes was another lazy guy. Why do you think he invented the lever?

Sure. To invent something new and make an idea workable one needs to put in effort. But in the long run the short burst of energy to invent things brings in rewards of prolonged periods of taking things easily.

First came numbers. Adding up too many numbers was difficult and time consuming. So Multiplication Tables. Memorize it once and you do not have to make repeated additions rest of your life. But ask any kid if s/he finds memorising multiplication tables easy. So the next step was an Abacus. From, then on it was a foregone conclusion. Abacus => Calculators => Computers => Super Computers => Chip in the brain (ok! it is not there yet; but it is only a matter of time).

But talk to the inventors. Will they tell you they were lazy? No sir! They are like 99% perspiration kind. No wonder Edison doesn't have a single time or effort saving invention to his name. Or if he has one in the list of more than 1000 patents, then that must have been during that 1% inspiration period.

I see this laziness played out in my day to day handling of software engineers. Software engineers are of two kinds: the diligent kinds - slogging out day and night - and the lazy kinds - trying to find out shortcuts. The lazy kinds are the ones who come up with innovative software tools and reduce efforts drastically. We need both kinds. But I particularly favour the lazy ones. They need careful handling but once they understand that their laziness is being valued, they shine.

Note: The photograph used here belongs to Kymberly Vohsen. Please visit gallery to see more such photographs.

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