Why Efficiency is More Important than Productivity

Getting Down to Definitions

In order to understand why the focus on efficiency instead on productivity is often the better idea, we have to go all lexicographic and formally define these two concepts.

Efficiency is Less Myopic

Neither productivity nor efficiency should ever be used as the only measurements to make any all-encompassing decisions such as promoting or firing people or tearing down entire processes or companies. They are much too narrow in focus and there is always much more going on for this to be a good idea.

Efficiency is Friendlier to Improvisation

Bill Gates once famously said, ‘I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.’

Efficiency Identifies Waste

This one is actually discernible simply from the definitions of the two terms. Namely, whereas the definition of efficiency specifically points out that efficiency looks to minimize the amount of waste involved in getting the work done, productivity does not even mention it. It is not concerned with it.

Instead of a Closing Word

There are a few things that should be pointed out before we wrap up this article. For one, there are times when focusing on productivity over efficiency will make sense — like, for example, when we are talking about time-sensitive work that has to be done in a certain amount of time.

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