The Evolution of Effort

Megan recently graduated from the University of Michigan and has been working as a Marketing Analyst with HRInsights and the magis group for 1 year.

As citizens of the 21st century we recognize that any endeavor can be as easy or as difficult as we’d like.  With the facilitation of technology, most processes can be expedited, leading to a general discontent for inefficiencies and delayed gratification.  And this isn’t new – the assembly line, snail-mail marketing to email marketing, webinars and podcasts, even books on tape demonstrate our willingness to adopt multi-tasking, integration, and automation.  There’s a reason why that iPhone is so popular.

StrawberryIn the business world there are a lot of buzz words that epitomize this evolution of effort: “minimum effort for maximum return,” “low hanging fruit,” “efficient ROI,” “repurpose” and “no need to reinvent the wheel” to name a few.  These terms have come to represent success in a way, but also the need to understand where time, resources, energy and brainpower should, and should not, be allocated.

We proactively seek out solutions that will make our efforts stretch more efficiently over more time and people.  In marketing departments, we gravitate towards free services like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck that aggregate social media, making it easier to quickly converse and engage with current and prospective customers.  Sales teams utilize lead-tracking and CRM tools like Sales Force to manage the process a prospect takes from cold to warm, to “ready to purchase.”  And the brilliant minds that create these tools for us are constantly finding points of integration with brother, sister and cousin tools.  Gone are the days of manually importing contacts, just “connect” with Outlook, Sales Force, Gmail, or Facebook!   Thanks to technology, we can automate.

But even without technology, understanding the appropriate allocation of resources can be a difficult technique to master.  It is undoubtedly one of the more important lessons that we learn as business people and, being just a year out of undergrad, it is one that I am still in the process of absorbing.  Working at a start-up company, HRInsights, has made me uniquely aware of the time-effort trade off.  Each person on the team is required to think creatively, often wearing multiple hats.  We constantly challenge ourselves to understand the effort required in the actions we take on a daily basis and the resulting value that we see.

This fierce dedication to efficiency ultimately forces each one of us to think creatively – finding points of synergy and utilizing technology to automate and ease the burden of everyday tasks.  This attitude and behavior allows us put forth “minimum effort” and yield “maximum return.”  If this equation does not balance, we don’t pursue the activity.  And while this all breaks down to not wanting to work that hard (on things that aren’t important) it also breaks down to efficiency and emotionally detaching from things we may love.  These attributes don’t guarantee results and in order to be smart in allocation of time and resources, we must be dedicated only to action that yields positive results.  Nothing else.

Low hanging fruit http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/11/cdu.html

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