To Be or Not To Be: Efficiency vs. Effectiveness.

    Apr 30, 2021 9:00:00 AM / by Cecilia Noguera

    It is not a surprise that every company aims to increase its productivity. However, this term is so overused that it almost loses its meaning. What is the correct formula for productivity? Do you need your employees to be Efficient? Effective? Well, the answer is, a little bit of both.   

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    The first thing that comes to our minds in the journey to improve productivity is efficiency.  We think it is related to ticking off more to-do list items per day, reaching out more goals per month, pretty much doing more of something in less time, but the truth is that efficiency is all about doing specific tasks in an optimized way. You are more efficient if you find a way to do something two times, five times, or ten times in the time it used to take you to do it once. And while that could be a good thing, it can also be a distraction from the fundamental objectives. If the tasks you are doing (even if you are doing it quicker) are not aligned to, for example, your organization’s purpose, then it doesn’t matter. This is where Efficiency and Effectiveness come together to bring balance.  


    Effectiveness, according to the dictionary, is about doing the right tasks, regardless of the time they take. And here is the key to finding harmony: efficiently doing the effective (right) jobs is how you succeed.  


    Now that we have identified the objective, let's get the recipe.   


    We established before that the answer to all our problems (at least, productivity-wise) is a balance between being efficient and effective. But how can we manage that? There is a proven process that works both in professional and personal life, and everyone can apply it. This recipe is based on 5 ingredients, Define, Measure, Improve, Validate, and Control. Let us look further into them: 


    1. Define: Start by Picking the most effective steps and actions that will surely get you close to your goal.  
    2. Measure: Perform those actions enough times that you know what works and what doesn’t.   
    3. Improve: Look for ways to automate, speed up, remove, batch, or otherwise do things more quickly without sacrificing (too much) effectiveness.   
    4. Validate: Analyze the results and repeat the process.  
    5. Control: Make sure the improvement is linked to a metric and you have a way to share this best practice, so you keep with the good results in the future. 


    It doesn’t really matter - at least not at first- how long it takes you to do something that gets you closer to your goal, as long as it moves you in the right direction. Start with the most effective possible thing you could do; optimization will come later.   


    Getting things done is more important than getting random things done well. But doing the right things well is what creates a profitable business. Do it effectively, make it efficient, test it, and repeat. Productivity will be at the reach of your hand.  



    This article was edited by Ana Rosa ARANA -


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    Topics: Supply Chain Management, efficiency, Opmitization, Business Excellence, Lean

    Cecilia Noguera

    Written by Cecilia Noguera

    Cecilia is a Visual Experience & Communications Manager at GEODIS. She has a degree in Advertising Art Direction and knowledge of Social Media, Photography and Graphic design. She joined GEODIS 10 years ago in Argentina and is now working in The Americas Center of Excellence in Guadalajara, Mexico.

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