We all know the perils of being merely efficient. It’s not hard to think of an example of ourselves acting quickly or even expertly, only to find that our actions were not ideal for a situation. For this reason, the goal of effectiveness is generally a better one than simple efficiency, if we want to maximize the value of our efforts.
This fairly uncomplicated idea of course begs us to understand the nature of effectiveness, and I encounter people and groups all the time who struggle with this important concept. But as is the case with many complex phenomena, there is a simple way to think about effectiveness that can unlock our ability to both understand and achieve it. And this ability is true regardless of whether we are considering the effectiveness of groups and organizations or ourselves and others.
To demystify effectiveness and make the concept immediately clearer and more actionable, we need only consider three variables: 1) a need or want, 2) time, and 3) cost. All three variables are pretty straightforward, and there is no nuanced understanding of these words required. More than likely, how you intuitively understand needs and wants, time, and cost are adequate for unlocking new effectiveness in your life and work. The trick is thinking about these things together and the ways in which they naturally inter-relate.
As part of this new perspective, we simultaneously learn to better differentiate between needs and wants, and tasks. This important distinction lies at the heart of the difference between efficiency and effectiveness, and can be used to promote transformative impacts in our lives and organizations.