We always want to do the right thing right, right? There is only one way to do that, increase the efficiency and effectiveness. First we need to understand the difference between the two, since a lot of people including my past self confuse the two. Even though these work hand in hand one does not imply the other. That is you can have a company which is effective but not efficient.
Efficiency is about functioning in the best possible manner with the least waste of time and effort. It usually can be expressed as a percentage of the input and output. Effectiveness has to do with the end product or result. Essentially being effective is about doing the right things, while being efficient is about doing things right.
In the above diagram there is only one quadrant we want to be in: top right. It is where right things are done right. I was going to argue as to why it is more important to be effective rather than efficient, because being effective will help you survive. However life is too short for second options, your only option should be to thrive. The main question is how to make sure you get to the top right quadrant as efficient and effective as possible. Then once you get there you need to make sure you can stay there.
The answer probably lies in your processes, tools and resources. The better they are the better you are. However adding processes and tools is a double-edged sword. Adding processes and tools is anti-agile. In agile we should value individuals and interactions over processes and tools. In essence any tools and processes should enhance and enrich interactions and transform people into individuals. Adding more processes and tools will slow you down and probably make you less efficient, but not having any will result in chaos. As always this is a balance of the cost curve against the benefit curve.
I would like to close by proposing 10 guidelines to help increase your efficiency and effectiveness, whether you are a company or individual:
- Be honest
- Get feedback and stop to reflect – on things you are doing right and wrong
- Automate slow processes
- Keep it simple
- Buy the best tools money can buy
- Work with the best
- Plan and set targets
- Deal with conflict asap
- Have fun
- Invest in knowledge
Company visions, mission statements, values… what a load of crap right? Wrong!
Up to a few months ago I use to believe that having a vision or a mission statement was plain bullshit. But when you stop to think about it without a vision you are all over the place and not sure in which direction you should be going.
A company should be group of people with the same set of common values and beliefs. The reason for this is trust. I like to use an example by Simon Sinek. When you are abroad and meet a person from your birth place, you become immediate friends. There is immediate trust between the two of you. The reason is because you know that the people from the same country share a common set of values and beliefs. Companies should be similar.
Why do you think Melita customer service sucks? I never worked for Melita and don’t have any inside information. So I’m going to make a few guesses here. It must be really annoying to hear people complain all day long. They must feel pretty useless that they hear people complain all day long but can’t do anything about it. The reason they do this is probably because they are told to act this way. The customer service representatives have bosses who treat them like shit, because in turn they are treated like shit. It becomes immediately evident that this company is founded on bad values and immoral beliefs.
What about money?
Almost all companies are there to make money, and making money in its self is a vision. By this definition all companies have a vision: to make more money. That’s true, the problem I see with that is that it’s much harder to build a company with the right values and beliefs, if your main aim is to make money. We all like money. But money makes us greedy and short sighted.
We should think of money as a by-product or result. In your personal life in order for you to survive you need to have money. You need money to enjoy it and money helps to make you happy. But if your primary aim is to make money you’ll end up living a very boring life. If on the other hand your aim is to have fun and enjoy life you’ll probably live much better off. However in order to enjoy life you’ll need money. To this extent money is a by-product. It’s not your primary aim to make money, but you need money to live better. The same reasoning applies to companies.
Why should you care about all this?
Having a vision changes everything. Having a vision changes the way companies do things and what they do. Having a vision attracts the right customers. Having the right vision will help you come up with the right set of values and beliefs. Which in turn will make it easier for a company to shape up the right environment to attract and nurture the right employees.