Efficiency Vs. Effectiveness – “What’s Best Next” – M.Perman

Whats Best Next -PermanSince we are on a work-related theme today, we will continue our look at Matt Perman’s new book on “gospel-driven productivity” in the workplace, What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done (Zondervan, 2014).

I am two chapters into Perman’s first section (“First Things First”), and after describing the unique challenges that face us in the modern workplace – a “knowledge economy” (where defining the work is as big a challenge as getting it done) vs. an “industrial economy” (still around but not as dominant), – he returns to the idea that learning to do things better (more productively) does not equal doing our work more efficiently, i.e., faster, with less time or at less cost. In fact, efficiency in the workplace often costs more in the long haul, Perman argues, along with other business experts.

For today, I leave you with a few of his thoughts on this argument that effectiveness, not efficiency, is the key to proper productivity in our daily callings.

While efficiency is important, it works only when we make it secondary, not primary. It doesn’t matter how efficient you are if you are doing the wrong things in the first place. More important that efficiency is effectiveness – getting the right things done. In other words, productivity is not first about getting more things things done faster. It’s about getting the right things done.

…The far greater priority than becoming more efficient is learning how to identify what’s most important – that is, what’s best – and then translate that into action. The mistake of superficial efficiency is that it sacrifices people on the altar of tasks. That’s backward. As we will see later, efficiency exists so that you can serve others better, not sacrifice them to efficiency.

One of the best places for efficiency is being efficient with things so that you can be effective with people. If you become more efficient with things (for example, by setting up your computer, desk, workflow system, and files to operate in the most efficient way possible), you will have more time to give to being effective with people without feeling like you are always behind on your tasks (43, 48-49).


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