Efficiency vs. Effectiveness

What does it take to be effective? Intelligence, Imagination or Knowledge? Perhaps all the three factors may be necessary to some extent for making us effective but then again all these three may not guarantee that one becomes effective by having these qualities.

To look at the two aspects of productivity, efficiency & effectiveness, consider a worker in a laundry department handling the operation of a calendar machine. His productivity is decided by the number of linen iron-rolled in a shift. He has been given clear instructions on what to do. His efficiency is decided by doing his task correctly. However in the case of a knowledge worker, things are quite different. A knowledge worker is the one who puts to use what is between his two ears. While a manual worker puts to use the skills he has in his hands, an executive is the one who not only does what is being told to him, but anticipates what is expected of him and makes the right decisions.

Consider a kitchen where the chef is extremely skilled. A dish prepared and served to the guest on time piping hot, is a culinary delight, only for the guest to discover half-way through his meal, a strand of scrubber wire (used by the kitchen steward to clean the pan earlier, on which the dish was cooked in). However skilled this Chef is, however fast the F&B team cooks and serves the dish (i.e., however efficient they are), this process will not be effective. When the guest discovers the foreign object in his plate, he will not be a happy guest. Not only will this lead to dissatisfaction but it will also in some way impact the profitability of the organization.

Knowledge work is not only defined by quantity or by costs, but it is also decided by the results one produces. An effective executive is a knowledge worker who takes the right decisions thus making a contribution to his organization. He has to plan, organize, motivate, and integrate to obtain the desired results.

Thus efficiency is about doing things right while effectiveness is about doing the right things!

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