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Efficiency is dangerous!

This article explains the role of efficiency beyond mere time saving …

Workplace efficiency using Office

Estimated reading time 6 min

Time saving is not good…

In the previous article, we saw an example of how effective Office usage can lead to unimaginable and significant time saving.

Now think from the point of view of the person who saved so much time… in the case I mentioned earlier, someone saved 23 hours and 45 minutes – she could finish the job in 15 minutes.

You think she was happy?

Who ever you are, just try to put yourself in her shoes. What do you think?

The problem is that she was getting 3 days of salary for doing that work. Now she is doing it in 15 minutes. Technically a great achievement. But from personal point of view, it is a problem rather than a celebration!

What will she do for 3 days now?

Agreed that she is efficient. But if she sends the report in 15 minutes, will someone notice it, appreciate it or give her some kind of appreciation or raise in salary?

None of the above.

In fact, if she has nothing to do for 3 days, she will be looked down upon. Someone will notice that she is idle and sooner or later she will get MORE WORK – at no additional remuneration.

That is the reward for being efficient! Not a good idea. If I was her, I would still send the report after 3 days Winking smile

If there is any retrenchment due to lower business cycle or economic slowdown, she is sure to be on the list of redundant persons. Very sad.

But let us keep the individual angle aside for the time being.

Organizational benefit of time saving?

Let us switch gears and look at it from an organizational point of view.

Here is someone whom I have recruited for specific reasons. I pay some salary which is commensurate with the expectations.

Now, suddenly, that person has nothing to do for 3 days. Why? Because she is super-efficient!

Good show. I may pat her on the back, put her photo on intranet or newsletter, but beyond that will her salary increase because her efficiency increased? Absolutely not.

Something is missing

An employee saved significant amount of time – so did the organization. But neither the employee nor the organization got any tangible benefit. (Tangible benefit means something which improves the topline or bottom-line or both.)

So why should you even attempt to be efficient?

All the job profiles are written by people who are inefficient for people who are inefficient. You are introducing a thankless discord in that equation.

Wouldn’t it be better to be inefficient and follow the organizational expectations,
take the salary and go home?

There does not seem to be any solid premise for attempting to be efficient!

What to do with the saved time?

The real question is – “I saved x amount of time. What will I do with it?”

The obvious answer is – nothing specific. I will waste my time, gossip, appear to be working while I am not… many options available.

But if you look at all those options, none of them seems to be adding value to the individual or the organization.

That means our thought process is wrong. There are many things you can do with the saved time…

  1. Handle backlog – (everyone has some pending work)
  2. Look at your job description and identify areas which you have not been able to pay attention to and work on those
  3. Teach the efficient method to your colleagues, boss, subordinates, associates … so that your knowledge spreads to others

But all these things will finish soon. If you are really efficient, you will still have more time.

What to do with that extra time?

The answer is NOT  obvious. But of course there is an answer.

It is simple.

Divide the time saved into two parts:
30% of time saved should be spent in learning more

70% of time should be spent on going BEYOUD your job description!

That is called growth.

How to go BEYOND the job description?

Here is an example…

I am supposed to get sales data – clean and consolidate it and send a weekly report to my superiors. The problem is that my report creation time has reduced from days to minutes.

What should you do?

Often, there are people who are senior – whose time is valuable and precious. That is why they have people lower down to do the mundane work.

The person who creates report is usually doing the mundane work and her boss is doing the so called “value addition”. Fair or not fair, I don’t know. Nor do I care.

Now that you already have the report and have lots of idle time at hand, why don’t you just continue analyzing the SAME data in different ways?

Every method of analyzing or visualizing data is bound to provide some useful and actionable useful information (the jargon is called insights).

Now, you spend all your energy in finding such additional insights. At this stage, who knows about the additional findings – and the opportunity? ONLY YOU.

So exploit that unique position. Attach your findings and suggestions to the STANDARD report and send to boss.

Search for new capabilities

There are two kind of features – new features and improved features. New features bring new capabilities. New features do not improve upon any existing functionality. It allows you to think of a NEW way of handling business.

It is in your interest to explore all the new features and think – where will this benefit me?

This thought process, if inculcated in the minds of every employee, is called Efficiency!

Think about it and do it.

Finding every piece of useful information is called BI!!!


2 Responses

  1. Doc, efficiency gained is not always by paid employees. Many times, entrepreneurs like me gain huge efficiencies by reading and implementing the methods described in your articles. In such cases, the rewards of efficiency are immediate, massive and extremely quantifiable!

    1. Of course. Efficiency is a way of life. It is a mindset rather than the absolute number of features you know.

      I wrote these two articles to put the definition in a proper perspective. Usually, nobody thinks so much about Office.

      If you have little more curiosity, proactivity and exploration, your life changes!

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