We have all been there. Waiting for what seems like eternity for your favorite meal at your favorite restaurant, becoming more impatient as your hunger grows and the clock ticks. In reality, it has only been 30 minutes for your favorite sushi roll or perfectly seasoned and grilled steak to appear. At last, you can finally enjoy that meal you so desperately desired.
Last week I discussed the differences between efficiency and effectiveness. How does your understanding of expectations and quality relate to efficiency and effectiveness? Essentially, efficiency is related to time and effectiveness to quality (review last weeks discussion here). Knowing what is expected and defining quality will change what is determined to be efficient and effective.
So what if I expect my favorite restaurant to be less efficient in trade for a more effective quality product? Is this really less efficient or just different? Conversely, should I expect a fast-food restaurant to be more efficient but receive a lower quality product? Is this really a lower quality product or just different. What does quality mean?
Quality can be defined as the degree to which a product or service meets or exceeds the customer’s expectations. (Project Managers also consider the grade of a product or service, but that is a different topic.) If I go to a steakhouse, I expect a perfectly seasoned and grilled steak. If I go through a drive-thru, I expect a burger cooked and served quickly.
When I go to my favorite steakhouse, I am sacrificing my time as I know the wait will likely be 45 minutes, but I am gaining what I perceive to be a high quality meal that meets my expectations. Should the fact that I already know the wait time is going to be 45 minutes change my definition of efficiency?
When I am in a hurry, I will go to a fast-food drive-thru and order a quick burger. I am exchanging what I determine to be a higher quality product for efficiency (less time). Does this change my definition of quality?
You see, quality is not less or more, it is different, and the same with efficiency. If I were to go to a steakhouse, and I receive a fast-food quality burger instead of my perfectly grilled steak, I would be disappointed, as the steakhouse did not meet my expectations for what I determine as quality in that situation. Alternatively, I should not expect a steakhouse quality burger from a fast-food drive-thru.
How does a steakhouse relate to leadership? As you lead your team and determine efficiency and effectiveness, consider the expectations set, and how you and your team define quality. Ensure everyone is of the same understanding to reduce unmet requirements, simply because your definition is different from the others.
Moving forward, as you go to your favorite restaurant, see if you can tell what they value more – efficiency or effectiveness – and does this change based on your expectations and definition of quality. Meet with your team, clearly articulate your expectations, define quality, and drive efficient and effective results. See what happens when you become more efficient through effective use of your expectations and a clear definition of quality.
Jared W. Snow