This website covers topics on knowledge management, personal effectiveness, theory of constraints, amongst other topics. Opinions expressed here are strictly those of the owner, Jack Vinson, and those of the commenters.

Sin, thy name is efficiency

David Snowden struck a chord with Sin, thy name is efficiency.  "Efficiency" is a central element in the development of Theory of Constraints.  Specifically, the mind set that if each element of a system is efficient, then the whole system will be efficient. 

Efficiency is all about stripping away all apparently superfluous functionality so that all that is left is what you really need. It is at the heart of BPR and its modern successor Six Sigma. The problem is that the definition of what is superfluous at any one time is very specific to the context of that time and the knowable future. Focusing on efficiency is great for aspects of an organisation that are process based, but not for the more fluid and complex areas of innovation, service etc etc. There the issue is to be effective which implies a degree of planned inefficiency, the grit in the oyster, that provides adaptive capacity over time. Efficiency is all well and good for stable environments, but for all other context we need to focus on resilience.

Even for stable environments, efficiency is the wrong focal point.  The overall system is not going to be made more efficient if everyone focuses on efficiency of their department or function.  Another TOC claim is that "activation and utilization of a resource are not synonymous."

How does this come together?  TOC recommends using Reliability (did we do the right things) as the primary measure of the system.  As secondary measures, we have Effectiveness (did we do something we shouldn't have done) and Local Operating Expenses ("efficiency").  The key is that the Effectiveness and Efficiency measures should never be driven to the detriment of Reliability.  Interesting that Snowden refers to this as "planned inefficiency."

Out with the old, in with the new

Mind mapping in five minutes