The Efficiency / Effectiveness Pendulum

Dave Tufts, Managing Partner, CTO
Posted on Jan 18, 2018

Imarc has always aimed to provide as much value as possible for our clients.That’s why in recent years our focus has been on efficiency and better reporting. Being efficient at our work allows us to provide that value. And reporting on that work allows us to gauge success. This might be internally tracking time estimates versus actual time spent on a task, or working with a client to find a way to best fit their requirements within a budget.

Since success in our business is usually judged as a positive outcome within time and budget constraints, reporting on success closely parallels efficiency.

Efficiency is doing things the right way.

In 2018, I want to swing our focus towards effectiveness.

While efficiency is doing things the right way; Effectiveness is doing the right things.

Both are important, but don't confuse them. Effective work takes more time and introspection.

“Doing something unimportant well does not make it important… What you do is infinitely more important than how you do it. Efficiency is useless unless applied to the right things.”

Tim Ferriss, from his book The 4-Hour Workweek

In addition to reporting on efficiency, we can use reports to see what is effective – though, effectiveness isn't measured in time and money the way efficiency is. Measuring for effectiveness might be tracking engagement in Google Analytics, or simplifying employee goals to focus on just a few core items, or allocating time for engineers to benchmark and test new tools.

Some of our most effective work isn’t always our most efficient. An example could be breaking ground with a new content management system. The ultimate outcome might be successful, but with a steeper learning curve, getting to that outcome is not always as efficient as we would like.

Effective solutions can be viewed as an investment. You can only streamline for efficiency so much. Eventually, it’s time to realign or replace with something better. A focus on effective work is often outside the comfort zone and requires pushing boundaries.

Either way, in 2018 we will focus more on effective work.

But this is an ever-swinging pendulum. You get better at doing something right (being efficient), then reassess what the right thing really is (being effective). Once you’ve made the necessary changes, re-focus on efficiency for a new right thing. And repeat.