How often have you heard the terms efficiency and effectiveness? They get used a lot in conversations about maximizing profit in private industry as well as perhaps reducing taxes in the government setting. Whether it is the President or CEO of a company or Councillors or Mayors, the sentiment is the same - there is obviously something going on currently that is neither efficient nor effective. Let's fix that.
Don't get me wrong - this should always be a goal. There is nothing wrong with looking for efficiencies and improving effectiveness. However, I suggest they need to be done in an order that makes sense as well as having the additional goal, embedded within that effort, of maximizing value.
I would argue that, without first identifying, with absolute clarity, what it is that you want to achieve, the effort of searching for efficiencies and trying to be more effective might be misplaced. Would we really want to waste the time and effort of looking for efficiencies and improving effectiveness in areas that might not move us toward achieving our goals? Seems illogical to me. And quite ironic actually. You are quite literally being less efficient and effective if you make an effort to be so in areas that do not move you towards your ultimate goals.
The effort made in determining, with absolute certainty, what it is you want to accomplish is a critical first step in determining RELEVANCY. Once you know what you want to do and what your priorities are (strategic planning) you should then decide what, within what you currently do, can continue to be supported, either outright or at its current levels. If what you do now cannot be legitimized as moving you toward your goals then this area must be considered to be re-allocated toward something deemed more valuable and RELEVANT.
This effort to determine RELEVANCY, I argue, would provide more of return than would most efforts made in efficiency and effectiveness reviews. Stakeholders such as shareholders of a private company and citizens alike would also enjoy both the returns (cost avoidance) as well as the conversation around RELEVANCY. This effort provides a higher level of understanding around what is done and how it helps achieve something versus just how it is done.
And, now that you have determined what you are doing is RELEVANT, you can start looking at doing those things efficiently and effectively. Your story with your public becomes one of RELEVANCY first and then efficiency and effectiveness. Therefore, an intangible benefit of talking about RELEVANCY is transparency and building trust. This being an area that most would likely agree could use improvement these days? But that is a topic for another day.