What is your definition of efficiency?

I asked my buddy, Dick Shunarry, what he thought.  He replied, “Efficiency is the act of achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense.”  Well, isn’t he smart? Rattled that off without a moment’s thought.

It is a great definition, for the most part: Produce as much as you can with only the necessary effort and expense. The thing I like about Mr. Shunarry’s phrasing is that he doesn’t say you won’t exert effort. And the expectation of some expense is a necessary production cost. To be an efficient organization, it will take effort and it will take money.   However, by definition, being productive really only means to be able to produce large amounts. Are productive workers valued by how much they can produce? I think this definition is ignoring a few key elements.

Now, step aside, Dick, I’d like to give it a go. *clears throat* 

“Efficiency is the act of achieving the greatest amount of quality work by using well-organized efforts with minimal wasted effort, expense and time.”

What happens when organizations focus only on producing large quantities or serving the most customers? Generally, quality suffers, mistakes multiply and customers feel rushed and forgotten. I understand that business models are founded on this precise principle. Fast food restaurants aren’t necessarily concerned with perfect presentation or getting to know you personally. But where is the art in that? To be the assembly line of cuisine?

When you and your company focus on organizing your efforts to use time and money wisely, you will achieve quality work of which you can be proud. When customers and employees are satisfied, your company is in balance and efficiency will take care of itself.

What is YOUR definition? Sound off below!

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