Effectiveness – That’s the Same as Efficiency Isn’t It?

A very good friend of mine had a sudden spurt of enthusiasm late in his working life and decided to travel to and from work on his pedal cycle. At the same time, we had engaged a statistician to present some training workshops. My friend became very friendly with the statistician and also started timing his journey to and from work.

He quickly established that it always took him longer to travel home, than to go to work. He gathered lots of data and was soon able to predict his times according to the weather conditions. Encouraged by the statistician he worked out his average speed and his efficiency based upon his ‘fuel intake’ and energy levels.


Man vs Machine

After he had been made redundant, he sunk some of his money into a motorbike. He was still enthusiastic about statistics and now began to work on a set of data for his motorcycle journeys. He was surprised when he found the motorbike was not that much more efficient than he had been on his push bike. Of course, he was able to go further on the motorbike in the same period of time, which was a great benefit, but he thought it should be more efficient.

Once after getting his bike back from a regular service, he found it was not going properly so he decided to fix it himself. Eventually, he found the faults and corrected them and everything seemed OK.

Sometime later, he realised he should have returned the bike to the service centre as he used up so much time repairing it himself. It also occurred to him that by not returning it to them they didn’t know things were wrong. They would probably continue making similar errors as they hadn’t had the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. He puzzled about this for some time. Sure, he had made things right but the more he thought about it, he decided he had done it the wrong way.


The moral of the story

This story fascinates me because, for a clever person, it was clear he didn’t understand some basic things. He thought efficiency and effectiveness were the same. That’s why his motorbike was more effective than his pushbike, so he could travel further in the same time period. However, his motorbike wasn’t much more efficient.

In other words, comparing the input to the output as a percentage there wasn’t a considerable difference. When he put his motorbike right by doing the wrong thing and fixing it himself, he had done the same. He denied the service centre the opportunity to learn from their errors and had cost himself considerable time.


Efficiency versus Effectiveness

What has this got to do with your business?

Well, if you don’t understand the difference between efficiency and effectiveness then you could be doing lots of wrong things right. You could also be spending lots more time and money to satisfy your customers.

If your processes are efficient but not effective then your competitors will get there first and make more money.

The revised ISO Management Standards require you to measure and monitor the effectiveness of your processes and system. They aren’t just a paperwork exercise, they can actually help you to improve your business.

Why not call us on 01284 330400 for an initial discussion as to how ISO Standards can help your business? Or follow this link to ask us to call you.