There are two main objectives when someone is trying to figure out their productivity strategy. They search out either efficiency or quality. These are used together and often pursued at the same time, but one or the other tends to stand out as your own preference. Knowing how you view productivity compared to your coworkers or partner can dramatically change how you understand each other. Let's look at your preference and how you can use it.
People who have a preference for efficiency are those who want to see things get done quickly. Their aim is toward getting as much done in as little time possible.
An efficiency-minded person may look the world and determine that a new system needs to be put into place in order to optimize the speed of the process.
A great example would be Henry Ford. Driven by a desire to produce more vehicles more quickly, he sought out ways to revolutionize the production process. His desire was to get his vehicles made more quickly than anyone else.
People with a preference for quality tend to look at the details. They are those who seek out not just good, but great. They might even strive for perfection, even if it makes them late.
A quality-minded person will take their time in working on their craft. They want to see how things can be better, not necessarily having a goal of getting them done more quickly.
A great example of this might be Enzo Ferrari. He sought to make the very best vehicles in the world. His passion and pride in creating the fastest cars almost ruined his company, but he stood fast to his commitments. He spent time in detailed training and in having each engine assembled by hand.
Finding Your Preference
Reading through these brief descriptions of efficiency and quality may already be stirring thoughts in your head about which one you prefer. The truth is, we would prefer to do both simultaneously. While we may look for ways to improve both efficiency and quality, we tend to be limited by the demands of the world and forced to choose.
I tend to fall on the side of efficiency. I have a certain standard set in my mind that requires me to provide quality work. I work hard to get things done quickly, focusing my strategies around optimizing my time.
My brother, though very similar in many ways, falls on the side of quality. He will spend hours on a task, working late into the night and starting early in the morning. His product will be something that goes far beyond what most could produce, but it takes him far longer to get there.
My brother and I both have high standards of quality and efficiency. We try to work hard and to work fast. But we both would finish a product with different goals, with different ideas of what success looks like.
So what about for you?
Ask yourself these questions if you're struggling to see your own preference.
Using Your Preference
Once you've discovered your own preference, it's important to notice the preference of those you work or live with. Do they have an opposite preference to you? Pay attention for the differences. These can tell you what success looks like to them or what they are looking for in a project or task.
If you are a leader, knowing your preference can help give you language around the goals you are setting for your team. They can help you hone your strategy to your strengths and shed light on possible priorities you may not be seeing. You can look at those who are following you and see where they might get confused, solving conflict and frustration along the way.
For everyone else, look at what makes sense to you and how you prefer to get things done. You have a gift for seeing things in your own way. Use that and add your thoughts on how to improve the process based on your own preference. At the same time, understand that others will have different preferences. Find those people who think differently and use each other to maximize both sides.
No matter your preference, you will lean toward it fairly consistently over time. Since you know this is where you will lean, search out ways to live into the preference more. This increases your ability to add value to the world around you. If you are efficient, work on finding ways to maximize your speed. If you focus on quality, seek out ways to hone your craft and provide near perfect work.
One last note. We need both sides. Don't neglect one for the sake of the other. An efficient person without quality is just busy. A quality-minded person without efficiency is never able to finish anything in the time others need it. Develop both but allow some specialization to naturally flow as well.