What is Effectiveness?

slider_3Every once in a while I hear or read comments that “effectiveness” is just another fancy catchword or meaningless lingo for your resume. When I do I get a frown on my face.

The reality is that effectiveness is of utmost importance in our personal lives, careers, and how organizations function. Effectiveness usually shows up as relevant, measurable and sustainable results that provide high value to the individual or entities involved.

At an individual level, let’s look at weight loss as an example.

About two years ago, I was 10 pounds overweight. I started tackling this problem by going to a gym and getting personal training. Nutritional coaching was bundled in so I gave it a try. After months of following this prescribed routine, my body was definitely firmer, but I wasn’t losing any significant weight. I had hoped that it would just takes more time, but in the end I hovered around a pound or two lighter than before, and at one point gained more weight. Sigh…

About 9 months ago, my doctor suggested that perhaps a different tactic is needed, so she referred me to a Registered Dietitian (RD) at the health care group. The RD’s advice was different from that of the nutritional counselor and the personal trainers at the gym in that she had me focus on my caloric intake patterns and spend most of my gym time on low-impact, calorie-burning activity that I enjoy like brisk walking for 30-40 minutes. With this adjusted two-pronged approach, I am now much trimmer (2” gone from my waist!), firmer, and 8 pounds lighter! Thanks, Margie U.!

Now let’s switch to our expectations as a customer.

When I recommend a restaurant to meet with friends, I expect the greeter to acknowledge us immediately, the wait staff to be friendly and knowledgeable about the menu, the hors d’oeuvres to arrive at our table within a reasonable time after our order, and all of our entrées to be served at the same time, at the right temperature, to the right person. Behind the scenes, an effective chef has to not only attend to creating delicious outcomes to match our expectations, but have had a plan for what can be prepare ahead of time, which dishes can be staggered, which must be prepared in parallel, and if the number of customers ordering at one time exceeds the capacity of one chef, how many sous chefs and other helpers must be at the ready to pitch in. In this case, the measurable results will show up in each diner’s desire to return to the restaurant, what we will tell others about our experiences there, and thereby, how popular and profitable the restaurant will be.

Business Strategy, Anyone?

Lastly, let’s think of business strategy in terms of lining up the right resources (people, knowledge (including purpose and plan), equipment, collaboration opportunities, funding, time) and deploying them at the right time with consideration for environmental factors.

If we contrast the election of Obama to the Presidency in 2008 with the unveiling this year of the new sign-up portal for Obamacare, we see that the campaign team was effective, but the development team was not. I’ll leave it to you to do the fun analysis as to which specific factors ensured success and failure.

So I hope that you won’t be seduced by popular culture’s easy dismissiveness of the reality of “effectiveness.” What may be the obvious and seemingly easy approach is not always the one taken, hence the continued importance of effectiveness.

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About Selena Founder of O Positive Coaching & HR Services

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