Thoughts from the MAPP Conference: Efficiency vs Effectiveness

A note from Dianna Brodine, managing editor for Plastics Business

There's a business card-sized sign that's been pinned to my bulletin board since I returned from this year's MAPP Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference. It says, "There's no point in doing well that which you should not be doing at all."

Business and motivational speaker Tom Connellan provided the card to each conference attendee. On the flip side of the card, Connellan explained:

  • One of the keys to success is remembering the critical difference between effectiveness and efficiency. Effectiveness is doing the right things, and efficiency is doing things right.
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  • When the world changes, too many of us become over-concerned with efficiency and under-concerned with effectiveness. Yet, that's the precise moment when it's critical to concentrate first on doing the right things. That's what takes the enterprise to the next level and creates value for customers, stockholders and other stakeholders. Hence, "Connellan's Law": There's no point in doing well that which you should not be doing at all.

The first four words of the second paragraph rang a bell for me – ‘when the world changes'. The plastics processing community's world changed significantly over the last several years, and I've watched countless molders become laser focused on efficiency. Plastics Business has featured article after article about process and equipment improvements that could lead to a more efficient operation. However, I've also heard discussions about drilling down to understand who the right customers are, training employees on all facets of the business to create partners in the process and evaluating service offerings that, although profitable, are no longer a key component of an organization's future. The MAPP Members I work with for each issue of the magazine survived and thrived when the world changed because they understand the bottom line is affected by both efficiency and effectiveness.

True effectiveness on the plant floor cannot be achieved by management or ownership alone. Whether a molding facility has 10 employees or 300, ‘doing the right things' requires a global understanding. At the MAPP conference, Connellan's presentation to attendees centered on the factors that lead to success:

  1. Expectations: Setting and communicating goals and performance factors.
  2. Responsibility/Accountability: Providing the authority to accomplish the goals without interference, but with a clear understanding of the cost of failure.
  3. Feedback: Applauding achievement and offering guidance for future improvements.

Connellan urged attendees to set their staff up for success by following those three steps. It's about teaching them to do the right things, which leads to an organization that is both effective and efficient.