If necessity is the mother of invention, then laziness is sometimes its father.*
Some of the greatest innovations were developed by people who were too lazy to do a particular task.
Professor John Atanasoff, along with graduate student Clifford Berry, built the world’s first electronic-digital computer back in the late 1930’s. Why did he do this? He said, “I was too lazy to calculate and so I invented the computer.”
A number of years back while working for a computer manufacturer, the department head dubbed me the “Chief Laziness Officer.” He meant that as a compliment. I was constantly finding ways to reduce my workload. I got so good at it that in my spare time I helped others do the same. (you can read more about this in an earlier blog entry)
Laziness drives innovations that improve productivity. It comes from saying, “There must be a better way.”
Laziness does not mean sitting on your butt watching Jerry Springer and eating bon bons. The process of simplifying takes a lot of effort. But when you develop a new innovation once, you get to leverage it over and over again. So in the long run, you are ahead.
Leverage is the key word. Laziness often involves the creation of something that results in exponential returns. The development of the computer certainly did this.
Although it is not considered to be a positive trait, sometimes it is useful to tap into your inner laziness.
* This reminds me of when I worked with Dr. Michael Hammer many years back. I once introduced him at a conference and said that he was the father of reengineering. When he took the stage he said, “Every time my wife hears that I am the father of reengineering, she wants to know who the mother is.” Classic.