Hacker Career Advice

Be Lazy & Be Great

According to Larry Wall, laziness is a virtue:

It’s the quality that makes you go to great effort to reduce overall energy expenditure. It makes you write labor-saving programs that other people will find useful and document what you wrote so you don’t have to answer so many questions about it.”

That’s a catchy line. And yeah, you can build infrastructure, tools, and processes that’ll enable you to put your feet up and read HN all day.

But, if you really want to use laziness to your advantage, don’t be selfish. Focus on the “labor-saving programs that other people find useful” part.

Chances are, even if you’re at a Fortune 50 company, you’re trying to be lean, iterative, and metrics-driven. That means your team has limited resources and ambitious goals.

Look outside engineering for inefficient processes and tasks. Start with operations. Ask if they need a hand with linking Process A to B.

The dirty secret of a lot of startups is that all the magic is manual. Even if you save someone 20 minutes a day, you’ll be making a big difference.

Talk to Sales. Is there a way to streamline the post-sale to account management handoff? Maybe there are some gaps in your CRM that you could plug, eliminating forms, spreadsheets, email, and dropbox folders.

Give the data scientists / metrics team a dap and ask them where their input comes from and how they get from numbers to charts to actionable conclusions. Take notes!

Everywhere you go, you’ll find ways to use software that improve your team’s velocity and efficacy.

And don’t worry about your backlog. Just because you found a problem, doesn’t mean you have to write the code that addresses it. In the spirit of laziness, you can probably find a SaaS solutions which is cheaper to buy than to build.

After all, sometimes the best code is the code you didn’t have to write.


© 2018 Neal Shyam