Why Efficiency Isn’t Enough to Increase Productivity

One evening, my mom and dad were on their way to my home, which is about a two-hour drive, North-West from where they live. While they were on their way, they called me to inform me that they encountered a detour that had led them to an “alternative” route, and thus, they were a bit delayed. However, they indicated that were making every effort to make up for lost time by going a little faster.

To confirm they were heading in the right direction, they asked me if I knew about this alternative road they were on. “Never took that road,” I answered. After desperately trying to get my mom to understand how to find and use the Google Map app on her phone, a little concerned, I asked mom to explain where the detour happened, and what they did to get on the alternative route.

As they were explaining what I happened, I launch my Google Map app to determine where that alternative road would take them. “Oh, Lord! This road is taking you to the North Pole,” I exclaimed. “I don’t know that route, but I know it’s not taking you to my house. You must stop right away and go back where you saw the detour signs.”

They backtracked, and when they arrived in the area where they had seen the detour signs, they realized that they had taken a wrong turn, which led them in the wrong direction. Fortunately, they found their way back on track and finally arrived at my house.

When they arrived home, I said to them it’s a good thing they called me; the more they continued on that alternative road, the further away they were getting from my home. Thus, driving a little faster was, in reality, working against them.

There’s no point of moving fast if you’re heading in the wrong direction. If you’re heading in the wrong direction, moving faster only brings you further and further from your destination. You might as well go slower.

This principle applies to your productivity: there’s no point of being more efficient if you’re going in the wrong direction. Efficiency needs direction—if you hope to boost your productivity. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that, because you’re efficient, it necessarily means you’re productive. Yes, you’re getting things done, but these may not be the right “things”.

Before you focus on increasing your efficiency, make sure you’re driving in the right direction. Efficiency is important but not enough; it must drive you toward high-value goals.

If you’re leading or managing a team, part of your responsibility is to ensure your team members aren’t simply doing “busy work” efficiently, but that their efforts contribute to moving the team closer to its goals. Team members need to be rowing in the right direction for the team to be productive and achieve its desired results effectively.

About The Author

Vladimir Elie

I help people learn and apply success principles and strategies so that they can get the results they want in life.