A certain World War II general, who shall remain nameless since he fought for the other side, devised an interesting process for evaluating the potential of incoming personnel. Today, it’s good advice for those who desire to advance and prosper in life. At the time, the army was gearing up for war. Those responsible for [...]
A certain World War II general, who shall remain nameless since he fought for the other side, devised an interesting process for evaluating the potential of incoming personnel. Today, it’s good advice for those who desire to advance and prosper in life.
At the time, the army was gearing up for war. Those responsible for deciding the best use of incoming recruits were overwhelmed by the massive influx of potential soldiers. To solve this problem, the general developed a simple process for categorizing incoming recruits. Here’s the process in a nutshell.
Category 1: Lazy and Stupid. These recruits would come in handy during massive assaults and maneuvers that required a high number of combatants. Although they were welcomed into the army, don’t be lazy and stupid. Modern day businesses can’t afford these people.
Category 2: Intelligent and Industrious. These recruits would become mid-level soldiers; the sergeants and majors who would actually get a lot of the important work done. They were welcomed into the army. The intelligent and industrious typically become the backbone of any organization.
Category 3: Industrious and Stupid. The general advised to “get rid of these people at once” and they were soundly rejected. Unfortunately, the industrious and stupid are everywhere. Within an organization, they create a lot of unnecessary work and hassle for others.
Category 4: Lazy and Intelligent. According to the general, “these individuals are suited for the highest office.” The lazy and intelligent were welcomed, nurtured and designated as potential leaders.
Lazy and intelligent? Designated as potential leaders? I don’t know if this story is actually true. However, true or not, the thinking behind the story is sound. Perhaps we need to bend the definition of the word “lazy” a bit and think of lazy as being economical with the use of our time and energy. In other words, find ways to get important jobs done while expending the least amount of energy and become ruthless about not wasting time on unimportant tasks. And require those who work for you to do the same.
Here’s a brief example. Years ago I noticed that three bank employees always had long adding machine tapes flowing from their desks. When asked what the tapes were about, they informed me that they were computing weighted averages for the loan portfolio. Three people spent three weeks every month computing averages. This wasn’t in the dark ages…it was just the way they had always done it. To make a long story short, the process was automated and a computer took care of it every month in a few seconds. Today, this example sounds hard to believe…but similar things still go on every day in many organizations.
How can you apply the lazy and intelligent guideline to your job? What is the most difficult and time-consuming task you have to complete on an ongoing basis? How can you make it easier to accomplish?