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Efficiency Can Destroy Effectiveness

By Joey Havens

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As I listen to the team go over the new plan on process improvement, I’ve heard the word “efficient” several times. It’s obvious that we have certainly made an old manual process more automated and more efficient. Efficiency is not a bad thing — unless we let it destroy being effective. First, let me own that this is a pet peeve of mine. Being efficient is NOT the same as being effective.

Effective is the skill of getting the RIGHT things done. Being effective means focusing on and evolving our services to do the work that really matters. With the disruption we have today, pandemic, digital transformation and quickly changing business models, it’s imperative that we start with better questions when we are evolving our processes. Some things to think about might include:

  • What is the long-term value of this process?
  • What would be more valuable than this?
  • What can be eliminated to free up resources?
  • What should we stop doing?
  • Is making this existing process more efficient as valuable as creating a new service or deliverable?

Yes, we want to be efficient at what we do. Shouldn’t we start with more focus on what we should be doing? What makes us more valuable? Getting busy with efficiency on legacy processes can cloud or destroy being effective.

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