Effective versus Efficient

I like dichotomies. There are a lot of them out there, and most are pretty damn accurate. A couple of weeks ago I talked about structure-seeking versus structure-averse, now I’ll be talking about a split that’s somewhat similar yet also very different: effective versus efficient.

Read the following line: “Move fast and break things.”

Some of you may recognize it as Facebook’s long-term production motto. People tend to have one or the other reaction to it: either they agree, or they abhor even the notion of it.

Disregarding Facebook’s shaky operational history, plenty of businesses, organizations, and artists take on a similar approach. I refer to this strategy as being efficient — doing the most with the smallest amount of work, making procedural MVPs rather than a fully finished project, being willing to leave some stones unturned in favor of getting product out the door in the first place. As most of you can probably tell, it’s the strategy I use. I skim on things like editing, SEO, etc. in favor of producing reasonably insightful content at a quick enough pace.

On the opposite end, there’s the perfectionists. The people who believe that leaving stones unturned is a borderline sin. They prefer spending thousands of hours on their work, on deep study sessions, on taking copious notes and looking into every fine detail. They prefer to be effective.

Honestly, I don’t know how the effective half lives. I’m sure they’d say the same thing about me. I also acknowledge that, like our discussion on structure, this isn’t a particularly new principle. The debate on perfectionism has existed for centuries, though I’d like to think that people don’t put as much emphasis on the differences between these two groups specifically.

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