Mastering effecticiency

07/09/2011

How do you master effecticiency for your organization? To begin, you need to focus on:

  • What then how
  • Strategy then tactics
  • Long-term then present
  • End goals then means

Determine the best course of action and then determine the least expensive and quickest fashion to accomplish this. Start with the big picture and then dive into details as needed.

The catch is: effecticiency is not a single one and done exercise. You start with determining the best course of action and then the best manner to pursue it. But it goes beyond that.

Effecticiency requires regularly taking the time to evaluate and re-evaluate what and how, strategy and tactics, long-term and present and end goals and means.

It’s a classic example of the old adage: life is a journey – not a destination.

Thanks for reading – see you soon!


Jerry Seinfeld understands the importance of effecticiency. Do you?

07/06/2011

I always like to pull this example out when I want to demonstrate a company missing out on effecticiency. It’s found in a popular Seinfeld episode sees Jerry frustrated in attempts to pick up a rental car:

Jerry: I don’t understand, I made a reservation, do you have my reservation?

Agent: Yes, we do, unfortunately we ran out of cars.

Jerry: But the reservation keeps the car here. That’s why you have the reservation.

Agent: I know why we have reservations.

Jerry: I don’t think you do.

Jerry: If you did, I’d have a car. See, you know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to *hold* the reservation.

Jerry: And that’s really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody can just take them. [Said while miming grabbing reservations out of thin air.]

That is a classic example of a company missing out on the concept of effecticiency.

They were extremely efficient at part of their job (they had his reservation on file after all!) but they were sadly ineffective (they didn’t *hold* the reservation which is the most important part!).

Funny, sad and seen too often in the real world.

Thanks for reading – see you soon!


Effecticiency – more than just a made up word?

07/03/2011

To recap the last few articles: efficiency is do things right and effectiveness is do the right things. Put them together and you have “do the right things right”.

Do the right things right. It couldn’t be any simpler, right?

My colleagues and I call this simple concept “effecticiency”.

Effecticiency is all about focusing on your end goals and then taking the most efficient path to reach them. The key to it is start with figuring out the right things to pursue before embarking.

It makes no sense to do the wrong things right. And it makes no sense to do the right things wrong or to do things out of order.

Effecticiency is a pretty simple concept on the surface but there are several layers to it that we will be exploring in the coming week.

Thanks for reading – see you soon!


The subtle threat of effectiveness

06/30/2011

From a business perspective, history is littered with organizations guilty of being too effective. It can come subtly in the form of desire for perfection of the end result.

Many business leaders fall into this trap. I know I do at times.

Keep in mind this quote from the famous philosopher Voltaire:

“The better is the enemy of the good.”

(Sometimes translated as “The perfect is the enemy of the good.”)

Paraphrasing – sometimes, good is good enough. You can spend forever tweaking, fixing, repairing, perfecting in search of the optimal result and go crazy in trying to reach it.

This has been turned on its head in the more current incarnation from Jim Collins – author of Good to Great – with his book opener:

“Good is the enemy of great.”

Taken out of context, this quote can be dangerously mis-interpreted.

At face value, this phrase can seem to indicate that individuals and organizations should not settle for being merely good enough. Rather, we should all reach for greatness.

In fact, if you read the book in entirety, he makes the case that striving for greatness is balanced with the concept of a profitable business. At no time does he advocate greatness at any cost.

So, if effectiveness, like efficiency, isn’t as desirable as it sounds, where does that leave us?

Azamba, my organization, believes in a concept called “effecticiency” – a balance between being effective and efficient. We’ll be visiting this over the next few posts.

Thanks for reading – see you soon!


Effectiveness is king! or is it?

06/27/2011

Effectiveness is all about doing the right things. It’s about setting and reaching towards goals. It has to do with managing a long-term strategy and adapting to changes.

It requires vigilance and perspective and is focused on activities that support your vision. It’s working smart – picking your most critical activities and focusing on them to deliver on your promises.

The danger of effectiveness is being consumed with reaching your end goal despite the cost.

Case in point: in long ago Greece, King Pyrrhus was widely respected as one of the greatest military leaders of his times. It came to pass upon winning one particular battle against Roman troops, he was left with a shell of an army – unable to fight any longer.

He was absolutely effective in reaching his goals. He won the battle. Unfortunately, he was left with no friends or comrades to share his victory and his country was left vulnerable to further battles.

King Pyrrhus greatest legacy to his highly effective methods is the term “pyrrhic victory” – a victory with a devastating cost to the victor.

Next time out we will talk about the  more subtle danger hidden in the path to maximum effectiveness.

Thanks for reading – see you soon!


The subtle threat of efficiency

06/24/2011

The more subtle danger of efficiency is that it can (and usually does) lead to stagnation. There are a lot of great companies that were extremely efficient at what they did – only to have their lunch eaten by upstart competitors.

Blockbuster is a perfect example of the dangers of a focus on efficiency.

In their heyday, their operation systematically put small, mom and pop movie rental stores out of business all across the country. They organized stores to maximize customer spend, added in upsell items like candy, popcorn, soft drinks at the register and they introduced video game rentals and used movie sales.

In fact, they were a great, efficient, profitable machine. Until the morning they woke up and realized that Netflix was eating their lunch. And they were eating it so fast that Blockbuster didn’t stand a chance.

So, maybe efficiency isn’t as desirable as it sounds? Well, what about effectiveness? Join me next time to discuss this.

Thanks for reading – see you soon!


Efficiency is king! or is it?

06/21/2011

Efficiency is all about doing things right. It is concerned with the current state and making activities as optimal as possible with minimum waste.

It requires repetition and constant measurement and is focused on perfecting processes and steps.

The obvious danger of striving for maximum efficiency to the exclusion of all else is that you may end up doing the wrong things. There is small consolation in doing those things very, very well.

Peter Drucker famously said “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.

Imagine: You are at a train station and realize you are late for a critical appointment. You efficiently dodge the other commuters, rush down the platform and jump on the next train pulling out of the station. Great job … until you realize that you are on the wrong train!

Oops.

That’s a pretty obvious case of efficiency going awry. Next time, we’ll talk about a more subtle danger of blind adherence to the goal of efficiency.

Thanks for reading – see you soon!


Do you want it now or do you want it right?

06/18/2011

You hear a lot about being efficient and being effective in business. What do these words mean exactly and how do they help us Amazon-ify our businesses?

The scientific definition of efficiency is defined as the output to input ratio and, more specifically, maximizing the output to input ratio. In other words, it’s about getting more or producing more from your efforts.

That certainly sounds desirable, right?

Effectiveness is defined as the degree to which your output matches your desired goals. In other words, it’s about making sure what you are doing is what you planned to do.

That also sounds desirable.

So, which is more important? That question is tough to answer – it’s not as apparent as it would seem. We’ll dive deeper next time out.

Thanks for reading – see you soon!


More on the three guiding principles learned from Amazon

06/15/2011

So you aren’t a retailer (or whatever it is that Amazon is these days…)? Why should you care about the three guiding priciniples that I introduced in the last entry?

It’s my firm belieft that these principles apply to all of us. Whether you run a law firm, a not for profit, a distributor, a freight company, a manufacturer, you name it.

Take a page from Amazon’s book (yes – that horrible pun was intended). Apply these principles to your business to increase odds of success in the Internet economy.

Easy to say, hard to do?

How do we Amazon-ify our businesses? How do we get from where we are to where we need to be?

In the coming entries, we will explore the separated-at-birth concepts of efficiency and effectiveness that live at the heart of becoming a leading Internet era organization. By understanding these concepts, we can apply them to our own businesses and Amazon-ify our way to success.

Thanks for reading – see you soon!


Three guiding principles learned from Amazon

06/12/2011

Last time, I made the case that Amazon provides a model for success in the new Internet economy. In reviewing their succes, we can formulate three guiding principles behind Amazon that benefit us all.

First: Change is here to stay.

Business as usual is a thing of the past. Don’t rest on past successes and don’t be afraid to cannibalize your products or services. The status quo is you can’t rely on the status quo.

Second: Customers are in the driver’s seat.

Listen to them. Give them choices. Give them a consistent, high quality experience. Allow them to collaborate. If you won’t or can’t do these things, they will find others who will.

Third: Stay out in front of your customers.

Yes – they are driving but you have the opportunity to build the road. Anticipate their needs and innovate. Keep raising the bar for yourself, for your customers and for your competitors.

Thanks for reading – see you soon!


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