Daily Archives: April 7, 2008

Efficiency vs. Effectiveness

Today I witnessed how a less efficient means led to a more effective end.   I hear it over and over again and I understand the point of the statement but it wasn’t until today that I truly believe that sometimes efficiency does not lead to more effective results. 
 
Today I led the second in a series of year-long activities I’ve designed to help VNSF create, understand, improve, agree on roles, responsibilities, policies, procedures… basically improve and give more structure to our internal operational excellence.  I could have very easily drafted the document I hoped to create by the end of the activity… in fact, I had a template to work from and could have swapped out and adjusted the sample form/template to fit our needs.  It probably would have taken 30 minutes, an hour max.  Instead, I took probably couple days to design the group activity and review it over and over again to make sure it made sense, shop for the supplies, prepare all the materials, research and find suplemental reading material to help give context to the exercise for the rest of the board, and prepare myself to facilitate the activity.  Probably 20 hours of my own personal time, an hour from the entire board to go through the activity, and then probably another 2 hours for me to create the various documents that I expected to be an output from this exercise.  That’s certainly much more than the 1 hour it would have taken me to draft the docs to begin with.
 
At the end of the day, because this was something we all built together it’s something hopefully everyone feels they have ownership in and that they truly believe in what we created.  There’s also something very powerful about taking the time to formulate your own opinions and realizing everyone happens to agree then being presented with a view point or opinion and be pesuaded to agree.  Sure, you agree either way, but it’s such a strong statement when you realize you have consensus without anyone putting their opinion out their first and launching into a sales pitch to get everyone else to agree.  It’s pretty amazing.
 
On a separate note… today, as I was spec’ing and analyzing some data in a spreadsheet, I felt my OCD kick into high gear… to the point where I even commented jokingly to K (a friend & co-worker) that I could feel my OCD taking over and wished I had a pill to make it go away.  I just knew that as I was working with the data and going back and forth betwewen it and the spec that I wanted to reformat the tables of data and align everything just right and make the spreadsheet consistent with the spec document and vice versa.  But I also knew that the important thing was that all the data was there and even if it wasn’t alphabetized and it wasn’t pretty and may not be in the most readable format that fact that the info was there was what mattered.  I also knew there was SO much other stuff I needed to get done, SO much other work to do.  I couldn’t fight it though, my OCD nature had it’s grasp on me and it was holding on firm.  I caved.  It was well-worth it though; I feel much better now.  =)