Have you hit the “sweet spot” of combining effectiveness and efficiency for peak performance?

The late, great Peter Drucker, defined efficiency as doing things right and effectiveness as doing the right things.

We all have a natural bias towards one or the other.

Often in trying to be both effective and efficient at the same time leads us to be neither. The result can be poor performance.

So, what’s the answer to this conundrum?

Effectiveness Efficiency Matrix

One potential solution is to aim first for effectiveness, then to switch to efficiency and move back again to effectiveness in a continual cycle.

Effectiveness

In today’s fast-moving business world, it is important to do the right things.

This often means taking quick decisions, usually with imperfect information, so that you can test your business cases rapidly through real-life prototyping.

Working in this agile way can be very effective.

Provided of course that you don’t take on too many initiatives simultaneously and are able to learn fast.
If not, the likely result will be missed opportunities due to not failing fast enough and not prioritizing successes sufficiently quickly.

Before you reach this point, it makes sense to shift your focus to efficiency.

Efficiency

Do you have a successful prototype that works not just in theory but also in practice?

Now is the time to improve processes and systems to make it more efficient. Aiming to make improvements over time rather than trying to achieve perfection straight away.

Over-engineering at this stage can waste time and effort. It is always better to iterate over time, evaluating the effects of the improvements and making further changes at a later date in the light of experience.

This approach frees up time to focus on doing more of the right things creating a better balance between efficiency and effectiveness.

In this way, you increase your chances of transforming poor performance into peak performance.

Becoming more effective

In order to become more effective, you have to decide what are the most important long-term priorities for your business.

This requires strategic planning and alignment across functions.

Simple tools can be very helpful in deciding where to prioritize. The Eisenhower matrix below is one such tool: