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Do we want to be efficient or effective?

I often hear managers and business leaders proclaim: “We need to be more effective and efficient!” and I wonder... “Do they really understand the magnitude of their expectations?” The challenges of being both efficient and effective at the same time, often requires a lot of strategy. Unfortunately we may find ourselves, having to make a decision between being more efficient over being effective, or vice versa.

Why?... Well let us start with understanding the terms;

Efficient - Means doing it the best way with the resources you have, it is process oriented.

Effective - Means doing the right thing; it is focused on the results or outcome.

Unfortunately it is not easy to do both, and in some cases we have to choose between the two. “Do I want to be better at using my resources?” (like money or supplies or even manpower) Or do I want to be effective? In some cases using more resources to get better results?

There is often a choice to be made, and we have to determine our priority objective. So the question here is not on a way to be both effective AND efficient (That would require a lot more discussion and maybe some intensive training) but to understand the difference and decide on our utmost priority.

In most cases you must decide, when having to choose between the two – What is most important to me and my organization? In time you may be able to accomplish both, but having to focus on one over another may be the best initial strategy for productive organizations.