Why we do less to achieve more

To be efficient means to trim around those excess edges, which can sometimes mean cutting corners. Streamlining, realigning, tracking your time. Process upon process. Management and middle management. More layers than my Photoshop files. Efficiency becomes overworked, overmanned and in the end, less effective.

Efficiency is also not compatible with creativity. It works wonders for running a factory, operating a real production line, mass market stuff. But for creative services? You can’t really ever put a definitive time on everything. That’s not a cop out. You have to adapt to changes in a project (within scope). Maybe you need to run through another set of feedback, you’ve got a lot of subjective factors and things rarely go right all the time. Let’s not kid ourselves, but how can we get better prepared.

If everything is a priority, nothing is.

Effectiveness however, is totally different. To be effective means to perform optimally, without overstretching yourself and your resources. How do we become more effective? Prioritise, prioritise, prioritise.

Dr Darria Long puts this perfectly in her TED talk about being ‘crazy busy’. Dr. Long is an ER doctor who has banned the phrase ‘crazy busy’. Out of being busy with emails or busy with A+E, which is crazier? How does she do it? ‘Triage, triage, triage.’ She suggests that you should consider if sending emails, for example, is really a life or death matter. What’s the priority? Prioritise your day and your tasks, even outside of work. Do what you need to do and forget about the rest. Operate a triage traffic light system – green, amber and red. Red is for critical tasks only. Oh and don’t think that everything in your life is red (project managers, we’re looking at you).

Because if everything is a priority, nothing is.

To be more creative, is to be more effective. Efficiency may still be a task on our list, but it’s no longer the goal to our success. To be creative, you need to be flexible and efficiency by definition does not accept flexibility. 

We’re lean by definition, scalable as a team, and we try to operate efficiently – but effectiveness, which is in creating great work. Is our main goal for any client.

Be effective, do less, but better.

—Craig

View Dr. Darria TED Talk