Seth Godin, Andy Stanley, and the Tension Between Joy and Efficiency

joy and efficiencySeth Godin blogged earlier this week that traditional corporations, particularly large-scale service and manufacturing businesses, are organized for efficiency.

“McDonalds, Hertz, Dell and others crank it out. They show up. They lower costs. They use a stopwatch to measure output.”

But replicating a product or service incrementally faster and cheaper is inherently unremarkable.

“The alternative, it seems, is to organize for joy.”

Organizing for joy means honoring the special request, going the extra mile, doing what it takes to be remarkable.

Now, which sounds more appealing to you?  Which would you rather be?  Organized for efficiency or organized for joy?

Joy, right?

But there’s a problem.

If you throw efficiency out the window and focus solely on joy, you will lose money and go out of business (unless your product or service is truly unique and you have no competitors.)  If you eliminate joy and focus exclusively on efficiency you will fail.  If you eliminate efficiency and focus exclusively and joy you will fail.

To borrow from Andy Stanley, this is a problem that shouldn’t be solved.  The pull between efficiency and joy is a tension that must be acknowledged and lived with.

How do you live with the joy/efficiency tension?

Make sure that you have goals and metrics for both joy and efficiency.  Celebrate wins in both areas.

For example, our support team at OurChurch.Com measures support opportunities addressed per hour (efficiency).  They also survey the people who are helped and measure those ratings (joy).  They document situations where remarkable support was provided (joy), and we celebrate those in our monthly meeting.

Do you and your organization recognize joy and efficiency as a tension to live with?  How do you manage that tension?

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