When discussing data management issues with clients I often hear “We want to be more efficient.”

Of course, we all want to be more efficient, but efficiency as a goal implies that you’re doing the right thing, just not in the right way. I would suggest that, quite often, we’re actually not doing the right things. Thus, doing the wrong things more efficiently won’t help us become more effective, just faster at doing the wrong things. Or as a friend of mine put it so indelicately, being more efficient with the wrong processes just means you’ll “suck faster.”

What we really want to focus on is effectiveness, not just efficiency.  So whever you hear someone say “We want to be more efficient,” your first response should be “Do you really want to be more efficient, or do you want to be more effective?”