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What you want to be – Effective or Efficient


During a workshop on Balanced Score Card at Chicago, USA, the faculty member explained with a beautiful example of the thin line of difference between “Doing the Right Thing” and “Doing Things Right”.

Already delayed due to overnight heavy snow leading to a few minutes of cosy sleep, the person finds his car covered under snow. Immediately the person cleans the snow out of the windscreen and hurriedly presses the key to unlock the car. To utter surprise, the person finds that the lights blinked on a different car just at the back. Oh! All the effort went in vain and the job has to be repeated again. A classic case of efficiency vis-a-vis effectiveness. The person, efficient person, did the right thing and might have completed the job, maybe faster than others, but at the end the result was not the desired one.

What would an effective person have done in this situation? The person would have first pressed the key to unlock the right car and then would have stated removing the snow. This is what is called “Doing the Right Thing”.

Definitions available in various sources define an Effective Person as one who is adequate to accomplish a purpose, i.e. one who can produce the intended or expected result. On the other hand an Efficient Person is the one who performs or functions in the best possible manner with the least waste of time and effort.

The thin line of difference is these two types is that an effective person always do the right things, whereas an efficient person does the things right. So, in case of an efficient person the job is done right but the job may not be the right one to be done. In simple terms it may be said as doing a wrong thing perfectly.

Again, if the available definitions are considered then, Effectiveness is about doing or using the right things — things that yield positive results and Efficiency is simply about doing things right — i.e., completing a task cheaper or faster.

In our day-to-day life this thin line of difference makes a huge difference in terms of Task Accomplishment, Productivity and indirectly in our own happiness. Doing the Right Thing gives us mental peace…

8 thoughts on “What you want to be – Effective or Efficient”

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