When efficiency is used as the only driving force, there is no consideration for the big picture or the long game – why do we do what we do? Efficiency in itself is not a bad thing. Efficiency is simply a tool. In fact, it can be a great tool when used correctly – but you need to apply it to the right things. There is no use in trying to make an organisation’s processes more efficient if those processes are ineffective to begin with.
Let’s say you’re running an emergency department. Time and time again, people slip on the floor as soon as they step through the door. You carefully plan and implement a triage system for those injured to be treated as efficiently as possible. The triage might be very efficient – but it won’t be effective if more people keep slipping on the wet floor and getting hurt as a result. What’s more, the triage would be taking up staff and resources from other crucial tasks. Making the triage more efficient would be a prime example of doing things right – but not doing the right things.
Instead of focusing on the falls, a better way may be to examine why the floor is persistently wet, and acting on the cause of the water, instead of building systems to treat the outcomes of the falls. This would prevent people from getting injured in the first place, saving money and resources. This would also enable you to invest in making other critical services more efficient. In other words, you could focus on doing the right things the right way.