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In business and in life generally, efficiency is defined as achieving objectives with a minimum of wasted effort. However, great outcomes don’t happen in a vacuum.  An innovative company stays in touch with its employees and its customers, communicating its objectives clearly with the intention of increasing efficiency for each successive (and successful) outcome.

Pathways to Efficiency

So where does efficiency come from? The “secret sauce” of the most successful service business centers on effective knowledge management.  Efficient companies regularly review their own performance—both good and bad and try to learn from their experience.  Moreover, they understand the value of record keeping, so that no new-found advantage or hard lesson will be lost to the company memory. 

Efficient companies also reward better ideas, no matter who the author.  An apprentice, new to the craft, who somehow solves something that practiced journeymen overlooked for years, perhaps because of its familiarity, should be able leverage efficiencies  and get credit for their discovery.  At the same time, missteps should always be accounted for during root cause analysis—not to punish or blame, but to better understand the problem and what it requires to make sure it’s properly and affordably solved. 

Additionally, modern technology tools such as BIM and Revit have brought about technological efficiency transferred from the engineering department to the field in near real-time eliminating downtime in the field, avoiding collisions between trades and allowing for the speed of construction to remain in-tact.

Sometimes, just re-thinking job performance ergonomically results in added efficiencies.  Take pre-fabrication in electrical contracting, for example.  Pre-fabrication has allowed for entire “units” of electrical work to be installed at one time where previously there was specific construction methodologies utilized which caused the construction process to bog down.  Efficiency in this case has led to additionally benefits such as added safety benefits in the field and lowering of insurance costs at the corporate level.

Mastery or Innovation…or Both?

Efficiency is almost never a matter of luck.  It requires genuine mastery of the work customers need to get done.  The best outcomes only matter if they occur in alignment with those needs, and where the provider is able to see a better way to perform the job faster or in a more cost-effective manner.  Smarter, faster, better usually occurs because somebody sees a problem differently, or because the problem itself tends to be solved in a way that is different than expected.  Ultimately, this is why innovation and efficiency are intimately related to one another, and why strength in the one almost always yields strength in the other.

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