Efficiency or Effectiveness - Which One Is Better?

Zaid Khan

3 mins

Let’s start with a simple question.


What’s more important, doing things right or doing the right things?


Well one of them points towards being more efficient and the other towards being more effective.


Coming back to the question, the ideal answer would be, well, both. There is nothing better than doing the most important things right, however, only a very small minority of us are programmed that way and it's important for us to realize which of the two brings about better results for our organization or even in our day to day lives.


Think about any goal that you have your eyes set on - whether it’s making a design, creating a piece of software or even cooking, all of these goals can be broken down to various tasks that need to be done in order for you to achieve it. Some of these tasks have a higher priority than the others and ones higher up on the priority list need to be done better to produce a much better outcome.


Very simply put - Efficiency is doing things faster, with greater ease, and with less effort. Effectiveness is about producing an outcome and at the end of the in any business or even in life in general, it’s good to do more. However, it’s completely pointless if the outcome isn’t what you want it to be or what it should be.

To give an example, It is efficient to send an email. The effectiveness of which can only be measured by the outcome, the action, or response of the party that receives it. If you seek effectiveness, then a different medium for that message might make for a better choice. Hence a more efficient person would send a much higher number of emails, however, an effective individual will get better conversions, and it’s fairly obvious which of the two would be a bigger win for the business.


“Too Busy” is the biggest sign of ineffective efficiency.

If you are “too busy” and are frustrated by it, take notice of what this means.

Busy, unsatisfied people are efficient machines, credit to them for that, but they still get poor outcomes in life because they’re efficient with the wrong things or tasks. There are certain things that make you “feel alive” just by thinking about them, and other things that don’t necessarily light a spark in you in that way, but bring results that make you feel alive. For example, you can be extremely passionate about painting, and thinking about it excites you. You might not feel the same about the act of exercise, but feel that way about the results of the exercise. These are two types of effective tasks. They both matter to you, but for different reasons.

As businesses and startups are becoming leaner and leaner these days, and moving to more modern cross-functional setups as opposed to traditional silos, the need for highly effective talent is on the rise. Since we already have a ton of machines and artificial intelligence to do more work for us, the need of the hour is that of smart people who can make the right decisions and execute them to near perfection in extremely complex environments. It’s great to have a huge capacity to do work but never at the cost of them having sub-par outcomes.

In your search for efficiency, identify the prioritization of your activities, and within such prioritization, reassess not just your efficiency but your effectiveness. Efficiency without effectiveness provides zero results.

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