Things I say often: I don't care about efficiency

· January 26, 2015

I’ve talked more about effectiveness vs efficiency than you all care about. The reason for this fascination might be that the word is mixed up in Swedish I guess; there’s only one word for these both concepts. Boooh… Swedish.

Because the difference is paramount.

In the excellent book the Goal Dr Goldratt puts it like this:

Productivity is meaningless unless you know what your goal is

This is the same thing. I hear many people talking about efficiency, or that we should become both effective and efficient and yes, but all means, become efficient. BUT don’t speak another word about that until we all have a shared view on what the goal is. Without a clear goal - there can be no effectiveness. And then efficiency is pointless, as Dr Goldratt said.

My favorite explanation for the difference of effectiveness and efficiency makes this very clear;

Usian Bolt take the blocks. He has trained his muscles to perfection - they are very efficient for moving him fast. He has the latests experimental shoes from Pumaddike on - super efficient! No air resistant at all. The same goes for his clothing - they are super light, no air resistance. He knows how to get out of the blocks the fastest in the world. Even his hearing and reflexes are the best in the world. He’s focused. Everything around him is blocked out. Now the referee is calling “Set”. Usian Bolt is preparing his body.

BAM - the gun goes off. Perfect start! It’s the fastest ever measured speed in the world. His leg movements are amazing, his hands is held perfect.

But… he’s running off the track right into the middle of the field.

He’s very very efficient but not very effective. Because he didn’t know the goal.

All that efficiency… wasted.

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