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We managers should be both efficient and effective. We must know when to be efficient and when to be effective. An old story called “The Unproductive Symphony” speaks of this.

The Efficiency Expert was given tickets by his boss to attend a performance of Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony.

He handed in his report to the boss the next morning:

” Thanks for the tickets. Here is my opinion.

  1. For considerable periods the 4 oboe players had nothing to do.Their number should be reduced and their work spread over the whole orchestra, thus eliminating peaks of activity.
  2. All 12 violins were playing identical notes. This seems unnecessary duplication and the staff of this section should be drastically cut. If a large volume of sound  is required, this could be obtained through an electronic amplifier.
  3. Much effort was absorbed in the playing of demi semiquavers. This seems an excessive refinement. It is recommended that all notes should be rounded up to the nearest semiquaver. If this was done, it should be possible to use trainees and lower grade operators.
  4. No useful purpose is served by repeating with horns the passage already played by strings.
  5. If all such redundant passages were eliminated, the work could be reduced to 20 minutes. If Schubert had attended to these matters, he would probably have been able to finish his symphony after all”.

Moral of the Story: Increased efficiency is not necessarily synonymous with increased effectiveness.

The famous management guru, Peter Drucker summed it up best by saying :

Efficiency is doing things right

Effectiveness is doing the right things !

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