Efficiency vs Effectiveness

You can do things really efficiently, but if it doesn’t create an effective result what was the point ? Results are what matter most.


Are you doing what matters? Got the right results? Awesome! Now what can you do to achieve them more effectively? All over it. What is left to tweak? Now it is time to think about getting more efficient.

“Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.”

  • Peter Drucker

Stop trying to be really great at doing pointless things.

Do you know why you get asked to do what you do? Do you know how it factors into the overall goals of the company? Mindless routine can be killer for effective productivity.

Getting excited about being more productive is hard at the best of times. That just sounds like hard work. People fall into natural rhythms of busy work that can be hard to shake. As companies grow work can very quickly become about getting to the end of the day rather than creating value.

Did the guy doing the job now invent the process? Was it just handed to him that way when he started? Making a simplified decree to become more efficient at that will only burn down the clock even faster.

Measuring effectiveness means metrics. Not vanity metrics. We need the stuff that matters. A great test to know if you are on track is to ask yourself “would my customer be impressed and likely to buy more from us if they knew this number”. That is the difference between measuring how long it took for you to close a ticket versus how long it takes for a customer to hear that you are going to solve their problem. If you are trying to get more efficient at how long it takes you to close a ticket and not how long it takes you to solve the customer’s problem do you really think you’re on the right track?

“Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.”

  • Peter Drucker

There may be very good reasons we are doing the things we are doing. But I’ve often found that there was a good reason, it just may not be relevant anymore. That may sound absurd, simple and silly but when was the last time you re-evaluate everything you did in a week? Was everything really of the highest priority? If you can be disciplined to make a list of every little thing do for a week you may be very surprised.

Know your target result? Improving effectiveness starts with WHY

Focus on WHY. WHY do we strive to achieve WHAT it is we are being asked to do and does it REALLY achieve it? You should be able to map any business activity back to a clear concise reason WHY it is done at all. It’s not always sexy or glamourous and you may not even agree with it, but it should make sense. Understanding WHY connects you to the purpose. Productivity thrives with purpose.

Once you know the WHY of your WHAT you can focus on your HOW and even change your HOW all together with less risk of effecting the outcome.

Tackle it this way:

  • Get clear on WHAT you are trying to do. (the Result)
  • Understand WHY you are trying to do it. (Acquisition? Revenue? Retention? Service?)
  • Evaluate, modify and change HOW you go about doing it.
  • Measure your outcome.(against what matters)
  • Iterate.

If you haven’t modified your long standing process in more than 12 months there is something better you can be doing with it.

Efficiency is important to scale, reduce costs and ensure sustainability. But don’t rush into making something more efficient that shouldn’t be.

If you can be efficiently effective, that is the golden ticket!

Have you gotten really great at doing something pointless ?