Thought Leadership

More laziness

By Colin Walls

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog posting that was about my philosophical stance with regard to the best kind of people to hire or work with. I advocated laziness in combination with being smart. One aspect of what a lazy, smart person does is share stuff. Blogging is a good example of sharing. I have an idea – it does not matter how off the wall it is – I share it with anyone who reads my ramblings. I get back quite a few comments, which is very pleasing. Once in a while, I get a comment that gives me the seed for a new posting. This is great. I can minimize the amount of work that I have to do and illustrate that I do take my own advice, at the risk of the blog becoming just a little self-referential.

I was recently contacted by Rick Low in Canada, who drew my attention to something very interesting [thanks Rick], which I am compelled to share …

I have a habit of putting forward ideas [e.g. the 8 day week and customized chocolate], which have a grain of truth/sense about them, but I have my tongue firmly in my cheek. However, there is an English saying: “Many a true word said in jest”, which suggests that maybe, once in a while, I hit upon something that might be taken seriously by someone or have been espoused in earnest before. Perhaps this is more like a case of “Great minds think alike” [ignoring the counter “Fools seldom differ”].

In this case, Rick drew my attention to Kurt Gebhard Adolf Philipp Freiherr von Hammerstein-Equord, who was Commander-in-Chief of the German military at the beginning of the 1930s. I confess that I had never heard of him, though he was a very significant and outspoken opponent of Hitler and the Nazi regime up until his death [from natural causes] in 1943.

It was as Chief of the Army High Command that he was involved in the writing of the manual on military leadership. He defined a [familiar sounding] classification scheme for his men:

I divide my officers into four classes: the clever, the lazy, the industrious, and the stupid. Most often two of these qualities come together. The officers who are clever and industrious are fitted for the highest staff appointments. Those who are stupid and lazy make up around 90% of every army in the world, and they can be used for routine work. The man who is clever and lazy however is for the very highest command; he has the temperament and nerves to deal with all situations. But whoever is stupid and industrious is a menace and must be removed immediately!

I have a young friend who is an officer in the British Army, to whom I have passed this information. I hope he makes good use of it, but I do wonder if he is lazy enough …


0 thoughts about “More laziness
  • I’d never come across this. Wonderful stuff. Now, how to apply it in the job interview process…(or is that what all those psychometric tests are really all about?)

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at