Efficiency != Effectiveness

Over on fs.blog, an article discussing how Efficiency is the Enemy. It’s got some solid observations, mostly gleaned from a book on the subject by Tom DeMarco called Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency. For instance:

It’s possible to make an organization more efficient without making it better. That’s what happens when you drive out slack. It’s also possible to make an organization a little less efficient and improve it enormously. In order to do that, you need to reintroduce enough slack to allow the organization to breathe, reinvent itself, and make necessary change.

Tom DeMarco

There’s been some articles already that talk about the idea of leaving room for flexibility and inspiration in creative endeavors, but I do think it applies to other kinds of work as well. The urge for “efficiency” I feel like is driven by the same Puritan-work-ethic mentality that loads up children with hours of homework every night – namely, that idleness is inherently wasteful, rather than an essential part of healthy productivity and learning.