My next professional goal: learn to be lazy

I have started to meet a certified professional coach to work on my business priorities and become more efficient. We defined together a workplan for the next 4 months with a unusual outcome: My goal is to learn to be lazy.

This starts with a theory, if you frame a two by two matrix, on one axis the intelligence of people from dopey to smart, one the other axis work strength of people from lazy to bold. Then we have four kind of people:

  • The tourist: dopey and lazy, their passion is not into work
  • The troublemaker: dopey and hard worker, they damage the company
  • The champion: smart and hard worker, sustain company growth
  • The maverick: smart and lazy, build company next business

Interesting, science has recently confirmed the theory of my coach. A 2016 science paper “The physical sacrifice of Thinking” with study showing that low-need-for-cognition individuals were more physically active.

According to my coach, I am one of those champions, a smart hard working employee who get things done but I consider that I have little time to think. For me, self reflecting on my actions is an essential activity, in particular for being more efficient and evaluate where I make impact. But this has a cost, compromising mainly with physical, familial or social activities. Being smart and lazy is an interesting way to increase work life balance. So, I told my coach: “I want to become one of this maverick. How should I proceed ?”

Being smart and lazy would start using Pareto theory that suggests that 20% or the work contribute to 80% of the results. In this regard, in a fast pace working environment with lot of Go/NoGo decision, conducting 20% of tasks should suffice to survive. Then, only when needed, a deeper contribution would be conducted. An extension of this smart and lazy theory consist in using 5% of work to present the top management the 20% plan conducted by champions that will achieve 80% of the objective. It is a win win situation, you give opportunities for champions to shine in front of the top management. You achieve high level work while keeping energy for social, physical and intellectual activity. My coach then has an ultimate theory that he calls the Parhesso. Spending 1% of work to achieve 20% of the work, then telling top management you achieve 80% of the objective. Then spending 99% of work finding the person that will do the job for you. This ultimately works but you have to ensure you don’t tap always into the same pool of champions.

According to my coach, being smart and lazy does not suffice, you also have to develop sarcasm as it increase creativity and therefore your cognitive capabilities. A 2015 academic paper in the field of organizational behavior has demonstrated that sarcasm activates abstract thinking. So who are those lazy, smart, sarcastic mavericks? Does it helps to adopt a badass style to make it more credible ? Would being a lazy, smart, sarcastic, maverick badass makes you a rebel? How can a large corporation deal with rebels?

A 2015 post on forbes.com look at the management of rebels. In this regard, rebels are highly valuable collaborators, idea people, problem solvers, contributing efficiently to the workplace. They can however turn into frustrated employee, being tiring for constantly generating ideas, provokes controversy and climate in the organization. To avoid disappointment and get the best of rebels, organisation and top management need to communicate a clear vision, goals and how they are reflected in term of success factors. Therefore rebel can focus their energy on creating ideas that support what the organisation aim to accomplish. By having clear values and outcome, rebels can better plan and organize their work. They can filter ideas on how they impact organization. However, when proposals are dismissed without being evaluated, frustration of rebel increase. Manager should just ensure that the workplace is safe for controversy. By challenging process and program, rebels will help the organisation to change and achieve major improvements.

So lazy, smart employees can become more creative thinkers that will help the organisation to progress under the right management. They often have courage to take risks under uncertainty and make tough decisions being accountable in case they fail. In this regard they are the organisation high potential. In return they expect from the organisation some respect for their ideas, and some pace to avoid burn out.

Rebel are passionate, curious, devoted whose ambition benefit the organisation. By being challenging and raising the level of ideas, they oblige their management to become stronger and improve their leadership.

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