Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Effectiveness VS Efficency


Effectiveness is doing the right things. Efficiency is doing things right.

What I am often skeptical about is what `doing' means. Merely 'doing' or actually achieving what you initially set out to do? Cause, if your goals are not achieved... you are definitively not effective, no matter how efficient you tried to be. But if you were effective, where you as efficient as you could be?. So for the sake of argument...

Effectiveness is achieving your goal doing the right things. Efficiency is achieving your goal by doing things right.

With my definition, being rather close to the Greek translation of the word, efficiency implies effectiveness. Nonetheless, effectiveness does not necessarily imply efficiency.

I have started writing a post, a few minutes ago, on guild policies and ethics. Somewhere in the middle of my rumbling I got stuck, re-thinking of what exactly I am trying to put across. You see, I am a fan of efficiency. I like things done in a clear, defined and well documented way. The latter part in particular is essential. Guild ethics and rules do not only have to be clearly defined, they need to be conveyed, particularly by the guild members actions. The obsession with efficiency is probably due to my academic and engineering background, as I do not merely want to make things work, I want to make them work with minimal cost, effort and time.And yes, I know everybody wants that but... bear with me :p

I often see that this efficiency is not desired by those around me. People have different needs and the extend one goes to achieve his or her goals varies. People like to go from A to B in circles, or zig-zag, others in a straight line. People walk, fly, crawl. That variety is definitely part of what makes us human. But it is also the reason we rely on deterministic machines to do a great many things in life. Or the reason anything advanced is often based on standards. Because merely being effective is ok. But being efficient in modern time saves money, time and... keeps the blood pressure down.

World of Warcraft is essentially the same. Its a large shared virtual environment, even larger bearing in mind the community of players as a whole and not specifically that of a class/server/guild or any sub-grouping available. People bring their personalities in-game and although the set of actions that one can perform is far less than that of real life, many observations from our real world apply in Azeroth as well. People in WoW are every bit as ineffective, or far more frequently inefficient as in real life.

Take a guild for example. Whats its purpose? Mainly collaboration. People come together, just as real life associations, to achieve efficiency. Nowadays, more than ever in WoW, one can be merely effective in-game by joining a pug, doing the same instances that everybody else does, albeit in normal modes or a tad later than others. There is of course a group of players that come together to do more things faster, with less resources spent (time is the key here) and with greater ease (that blood pressure mentioned above). Therefore do things with efficiency. And there is a group of players ignorant to the above but we leave those for the wolves to eat...

However, people often confuse those terms and start bending guild rules, become less vigilant in performing their best or completely disregard anything that augments collaboration. They initially are happy with merely being effective and gradually become self-absorbed, self-seeking and self-serving. Shattering any notion of effectiveness, let alone efficiency.

I can not help wondering, why these people stay in a guild. Or even worse, why a guild puts up with them. I appreciate they may have a social value. However, in terms of the guilds' purpose not only they do not add any value but they also affect negatively their peers. Being put aside as reserves is the polite way of dealing with them. I bet you know the non-polite (high)way.

The solution of course to this issue is efficiency. Yes, the very same notion one tries to achieve, is the basis of achieving them. Efficiency in defining and applying guild rules and ethics. Excruciatingly militaristic efficiency, even for the casual-est of casual guilds. Because above all, a guild must preserve its self. It must cater even for the smallest things with great effort, or it will become something else entirely. A collection of inefficient individuals, branded together with no apparent goal. And there is no Escape from that...


Jong 24 November 2009 at 15:56  

I like it.

I think I'm gonna use this entire post as the preamble to a post I've been wanting to do.

Lance 24 November 2009 at 16:00  

Feel free to use, laugh or flame! I look forward to a tongue-in-cheek post as usual :p

HP 24 November 2009 at 20:27  

I completely concur with your post. I just hate it when people use the whole "it's just a game" excuse because they're not being effective OR efficient OR both!

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