There is an important question to consider when we emphasize efficiency or effectiveness. The question is: What is more important, doing things right (efficiently) or doing the right things (effectiveness)? Achieving efficiency is great, but we must be mindful of the consequences of being efficient at doing the wrong things.
Although doing things right is important and desirable, team leaders should carefully reflect on effectiveness. Better yet, focus on efficaciousness: the power to produce a desired effect. This requires unleashing the power of the mind, giving people time to reflect, tinker and create the desired future. Success in the current economic environment relies on intellectual capital and that reliance will probably increase in the future.
However, business processes must continue to acknowledge such factors as fatigue and the ability to concentrate or focus for extended periods of time. A significant amount of research has been conducted on the factors of fatigue and concentration. Every organization should try to operate in a manner that allows it to retain quality team members. These established team members help to ensure the maintenance of quality standards.
The work practices and flow will vary depending on the type of work that is being done. So, as a team leader, a part of your role is to monitor work flow, timeliness and quality. I noted an article written by Niranjan Deodhar, entitled, Driving Effectiveness and Efficiency, wherein he makes a number of suggestions.
You can read his complete article, but I noted three (3) suggestions that could be easily implemented. They are as follows:
- Hands-Free or Exception Handling – A good place to start is to study hands-free opportunities. For example, look for opportunities to combine processes, locate sequential functions as close as physically possible, ensure that customer service representatives have access to all relevant customer account information, and investigate IT opportunities or improvements.
- Capture and Reuse Learning – Many processes are not unique to specific industries. For example, businesses that require a visit to a prospect’s home or business may be able to improve their scheduling and tracking by studying the software used by a different industry. One of the best questions that could be examined is, “How does XYZ Company do it?”
- Standardized Problem Definitions – One primary objective is to minimize the time spent in “setting the context” so we can deliver faster and better outcomes with the assurance that you and others are in agreement on the definition of the problem. Meet with all of the stakeholders to specify and agree on all of the required metrics and causes. This is an excellent opportunity to eliminate non value-added activities.
Irrespective of the new technologies that may be installed, people are the key to making any process work as desired. You must be careful to consider “people” and factor them into the analysis and evaluation of your processes. The overarching consideration for changing a process is to find a way to more clearly focus on the work or activities that add value to the processes. If you can eliminate or at least minimize the amount of work that does not add value to your efforts, effectiveness and efficiency will increase.
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