Lazy leadership

“Security is a top priority”

Sounds great, right?  It sounds so good that it’s common in board meetings and steering committees. It signals that we take this value seriously and that we’re committed to it.

It’s also a lie.

Only one car can win the race. Only one letter can be the first in the alphabet.  Only one priority can be the top one.

Prioritizing is a skill that’s hard to learn. When something is assigned the highest priority, all others take a back seat. That means choosing. It’s so much more comfortable to leave things in the middle.

Lazy management means not choosing. It’s only paying lip service. When we put quality first, together with security and performance and everything else, we’re not doing our job. We’re postponing the inevitable in the hope the monster goes away.

A leader’s job is to facilitate a decision. And that’s hard.

If you look at prioritizing as picking one thing over all others, a whole new set of hard decisions show up.

Hard : If we can only deliver 3 backlog items, which ones would we drop?

Lazy : Everything is must-have.

Hard : Are we going to fix this bug or deliver the feature?

Lazy : We need this feature, but of course, it must be bugfree.

Hard : We’re going to have to drop scope in order to make the deadline.

Lazy : We’ll magically increase velocity by staffing up even though we’ve read the Mythical Man-Month.


Lazy managers navigate around these decisions and avoid them. They’ll do some retro-planning and some Excel magic in an attempt to change the inconvenient reality. It makes them look good, but it never works. They push the problem to the team instead of solving it.

A decision is a trade-off. It means losing all other options. It’s hard.

Good leaders embrace decisions all the time. Lazy managers weasel out.






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