When Efficiency is Not the Goal

 

In the business world, we are bombarded with buzzwords and overused phrases.

Let’s circle up on that. Can we touch base tomorrow? Let’s table that conversation for later. Can we do a deep dive? Help me unpack that concept.

But there’s one word the corporate offices of America might just love more than any other: efficiency.

It sometimes hides behind questions like, How do we streamline this? Where can we cut the fat? Is there a more cost-effective solution? But we all know what’s being asked: How can we make this more efficient?

I think we can all agree that efficiency is a good thing. As a card-carrying capitalist, I like work that’s done with as little time and effort wasted as possible. However, I believe there are times when efficiency should not be the primary goal.

If you’re an employee restocking an aisle at the grocery store and a customer asks where she can find something, the efficient thing to do is to tell her where that product is and point her in the right direction. However, it’s better customer service and more intentional to stop what you’re doing and walk the customer to the product.

When you walk into the corporate office, the most efficient thing to do is to keep your head down, avoid eye contact, dodge conversation, and go straight to your office. But some of the most important interactions we have with colleagues are the casual conversations that happen in the hallway.

If you operate a quick service restaurant, it’s more efficient to have a separate drink station in the dining area where customers can serve themselves.  However, by having customers return to the counter for a refill, you create an intentional opportunity for your frontline employees to serve them well and have a positive interaction.

As a church, it’s far more efficient to focus on the one big gathering each week that happens on Sunday mornings, but it’s more intentional and effective to create a culture of discipleship and encourage individuals to meet together in smaller groups. This helps individuals grow spiritually and have deeper connections with others.

Efficiency is good most of the time, but it should not always be the goal. In our busy lives, we are all aware of opportunities to make things more efficient, but we rarely take the time to stop, to look up, and to be intentional with the people around us.

The tougher task is identifying the times we should be intentional rather than efficient.

Take some time to think through opportunities where intentionality can be your goal this week. Efficiency is not a bad thing, but finding the right moment to exchange efficiency for intentionality will provide us a platform to better care for people, connect with customers, and change the world for the better.


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Today, business means more than just mere products and services. Your organization needs to stand for something. Branding is what you tell the world; leadership is how you make it come true.

No one knows this dynamic better than Kevin Paul Scott.

Companies turn to Kevin for advice on how to up the meaning-quotient in their businesses, so that employees and customers alike champion the business as if it were their own.

Let Kevin come and teach your group about how to build a business and communicate corporate values in a way that resonates with consumers.

His speeches include:
• Building a Business with Meaning
• Leading When the Majority is Wrong
• In Changing Times, Hold to Unchanging Principles
• The War for Talent: Recruiting and Retaining Top Tier Talent
• Essential Exchanges: What You Have to Give Up to Go Up