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Efficiency vs Effectiveness & Slack

Image credit: Henrik Kniberg
Image credit: Henrik Kniberg

Many are obsessed with maximising efficiency. I’m guilty too. I’m a doer. Glued to my laptop screen; back-to-back Zoom meetings. I skip breaks, sacrificing them for ‘urgent’ stuff. It’s hard to say No.

Sounds familiar?

It feels Efficient, every minute allocated.

But, I often lack time to prepare; explore new ways; learn new things. I wing it. I’m busy, doing good stuff, yet this lingering dissatisfaction.

I came across an article explaining that Efficiency and Effectiveness are not the same thing.

“You’re Efficient when you do something with minimum waste. You’re Effective when you’re doing the right something.”

The article also explained the value of Slack time.

You can improve efficiency without getting better, by reducing Slack.
You can also reduce efficiency, yet improve significantly, by increasing Slack.

Give yourself capacity to explore new ideas, improve, experiment, and possibly fail.

At work, Slack could demonstrate itself in time, funding, team size, or even expectations.

Slack is like an organisational lubricant and shock absorber. Build it into your day, without guilt, and reap the benefits. I know I’ll try do better!

The article is based on a book by Tom DeMarco: “Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency”, and was inspired by this article.

This post first appeared here.


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