If necessity is the mother of invention, then laziness is the father.
Recently, I came across a great story behind park.io, a service helps you to backorder domain names. At the 1000-feet level, the guy wrote a script that automatically gets any expired domains of interest. Simple idea, right? This company now generates $125K revenue per month with only one employee - the founder himself.
I bet many people had similar ideas before. We can talk a lot around why ideas are cheap and only execution is the key, but what’s more fascinating to me in this story is how the founder get started with this idea - he wanted to buy a domain name for another of his idea, but was too lazy to check regularly to see when it expires. Instead, as every good engineer would do, he wrote up the initial script to automate this task.
Good software engineers are lazy. We hate doing mundane tasks. This trait is inherent to us because our job is to do automation. We are constantly looking for opportunities to automate processes, sometimes even ourselves, e.g. the continuous integration/deployment concept. The DRY (don’t repeat yourself) rule is such a guiding principle that it is applied widely, ranging from coding, architecture, testing to even documentation.
Software engineers are empowered to be lazy. We are trained with the skills and, more importantly, the mindset to automate repetitive tasks. But we tend to take this idea of automation for granted and forget that there are huge opportunities here to ease the life of normal people. Besides writing scripts to automate our own tasks, we can build tools to provide Laziness-as-a-Service (Laas) to others and, as people like to put it, make the world a better place. Out of many, Amazon’s Dash Button is a great example that successfully brings a little automation script into everyone’s life. Since its debut in early 2015, it went through rapid growth with more than 150 brands and Dash Button orders now occurring over twice a minute. Simple idea like this provides LaaS to normal people and fundamentally changed the way people live their daily life. In this sense, you don’t have to build the next Google or Tesla to improve the quality of life for everyone.
Let’s face it - laziness is human nature. There is no point to deny it or to be ashamed. As smart engineers, we should instead use our skills to provide LaaS to help people be lazy and escape from mundane so that they can focus their energy on the creative tasks.