This website covers 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.


The goal isn't efficiency. The goal is getting the right things done.

I've written on this topic many times - at least I have thought about it many times. In the common parlance of management, we are driven to be more efficient (engineering: use less energy to do a given amount of work).  But what happens when the work you are doing is the wrong thing? That is called being ineffective.  Effectiveness is doing the right thing.  Efficiency is doing things right. The best world is where we are doing the right things, and doing them right (paraphrasing Drucker). Eli Goldratt's version was something to the effect of "Productivity is meaningless unless you know what your goal is." (from Jonah in The Goal)

There is a nice article from Cal Newport last year on the topic, Mike Rowe on Efficiency vs Effectiveness (Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame). Newport talks about the modern world's fascination with "productivity" as a lost cause of driving efficiency without clearly understanding why. He goes further in linking this focus on dehumanizing work. Whereas the emphasis on doing the right things is much more satisfying - often driving significantly more "productivity" than merely emphasizing efficiency.

Being effective requires that we look at the whole system, rather than our small part of it. The elements of the system must operate in harmony, which means some parts might need to be "inefficient" in order for the full system to be most effective. This might be from the simple perspective of getting up and talking to people, instead of blasting them with emails and text messages. (And knowing when it's appropriate to do that!) Or it might mean that not all the work centers should be busy all the time to allow for flexibility.

RIP Stephen Hawking

Buffers in short