Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Effectiveness vs Efficiency

The distinction between effectiveness and efficiency is patently obvious to those who have understood it. But for those who have not, it may be worth a recap.

Many people are confused between effectiveness and efficiency. A sign of the confusion is that they tend to use the two terms together - as in: "for greater effectiveness and efficiency."

But which is which.

Leaders should be concerned with effectiveness - doing the "right" thing.

Subordinates should be concerned with efficiency - doing the thing "right."

The leader's concern is direction. He points a finger and says: "Go there."

The subordinate's job is not to worry about the "correctness" of the direction - but simply to "go there" as quickly as possible - as efficiently as possible. For if subordinates start arguing about the correctness of the direction, then the team will get nowhere.

What if the whole project fails?

If the failure is the result of inefficiency of the execution, then the subordinates should be punished.

If the failure is the result of wrong direction, then the leader should be punished and not the subordinates.

There is much confusion in the apportioning of blame of policy in Malaysia.

The civil servants seem to be getting the short end - for most of the blame is on the efficiency of the "delivery system."

But the national chaos that we get now is not the result of the slowness of execution - but the speediness by which bad policies get executed so that the whole economic system of incentives and rewards and effort is all upside down.

The civil servants seem to be causing the mess when in fact they may not be the culprits.

The politicians may be calling all the wrong shots.

If the people cry out because of the error in policy, it is tempting to shut them up in order that the culprits do not be made to appear stupid.

But the people have a voice in a democracy - not matter how faint.

1 comment:

walla said...