Translated from German



When we plan development, sooner or later the word easy comes up in conversation. Either as a question, suggestion or promise. Is that easy to do? This should be easy, no? Yes, this is easy.

Easy is misleading. It has the same calming effect on everyone, but its meaning is subjective. What is easy for you may not be easy for your team. What is easy today may not be so tomorrow. And vice versa, people learn. Everyone thinks of something different when they hear this word, and their views on it change over time. Usually, none of this is addressed. We rarely discuss what seems easy and thus self-evident because we tend to assume that others think the same way we do.

Easy doesn’t clarify, it’s a rhetorical figure. It helps to brush aside doubt and signals ambition. “Isn’t this easy?”, is not a harmless question. You’ll have to communicate complexity and uncertainty with the same calm, matter-of-factness and brevity. Few succeed in doing so, and objections tend to appear as timid complaints. It’s an effective way to put gullible people under pressure to rise above themselves and their opinions. We all tend to underestimate workload and further support this dynamic.

We devalue the work of others when we call it easy. We’re also not helping anyone when we describe our own task as easy. We may be admired at first for the promise we make, but soon the wind turns and all our efforts are just about a debt that must be repaid. To others, the job is basically done while we’re running behind. Our team will not be rewarded for their performance after a possible marathon. Finally, the easy thing has been resolved, what took them so long? Are they incompetent?

Easy is a bad advisor when it comes to planning. We like to fill supposed gaps with easy stuff, but end up eliminating any free time and mental reserves. We need those to stay agile and respond to challenges later on. Few things seem easy to overworked people. If something is critical to a product, you tackle it. Feasibility plays a role, but we can do a lot more than easy. This word is a warning signal to listen more closely because it usually distracts from more important questions, like why exactly something should be implemented at all.

Can we do without it? As children we can’t wait to proclaim that something is for babies, adults say child’s play. Easy describes a feeling dear to us all – no fear, no problems. Easy is a warm blanket. If we want to have conversations that go beyond that, we need to look for better words. Next time you want to use it, think on it. If you hear it in conversation, start asking questions.


September, 2022