Expert takes on efficiency, effectiveness and embracing change


5 mins read

Jessica Gregson and Simon Wakeman

How do leading businesses stay ahead? Well, it’s not by holding endless meetings about meetings, that’s for sure!

We recently talked to Jessica Gregson, the CEO and founder of Extra Brain, and Simon Wakeman, one of their standout consultants, to get their take.

Extra Brain connects businesses with diverse experts to help them make progress with their most pressing problems. Jessica and Simon are pros at getting the best out of teams in the most challenging business circumstances.

Behold the highlights of our conversation. Uncover answers to the pressing questions you’ve always pondered. Or not. Either way, reading on might make you more efficient?

Linking efficiency and effectiveness

What exactly do efficiency and effectiveness mean, and how are they connected? Our Extra Brains have the answers.

Simon says: “Efficiency means doing tasks quickly and smoothly. Effectiveness is about choosing the right actions and executing them optimally.”

"“You can be superefficient in your business but that doesn’t make it a good business. You’ve got to be efficient at doing the right thing.”"

Jessica adds her perspective: “Effectiveness is achieving the desired goal, while efficiency is doing so with minimal waste of time, money and effort. You can be effective without being efficient. But if you’re efficient without being effective, you’ve simply done the wrong thing fast.”

So, while efficiency is about doing tasks quickly with minimal waste of resources, effectiveness is about ensuring those tasks are the right ones to achieve the desired goal. The ideal is to combine both – doing the right things in the most resource-efficient way.

Did we get that right?

Quality vs. quantity

When executing tasks, should you prioritise doing more or doing better? How do you find the balance between quality and quantity?

Jessica says: “Finding the right balance is nuanced. It often depends on the task, the expected result and the longevity of the solution you’re aiming for.”

"“Perfect can be the enemy of good.”"

“Chasing perfection can cloud your judgement,” she continues. “With a clear grasp of the desired outcome, the decision on quality vs. quantity becomes more straightforward. But every task must meet a fundamental standard of quality. Otherwise, why even attempt it?”

Simon adds: “There’s real value in understanding what’s ‘good enough.’ Instead of viewing quality as an unwavering standard, it’s more about context. Sometimes, being ‘good enough’ in a process is precisely that—good enough.”

To summarise, when choosing between doing more or doing better, understand the task’s context and desired outcome. Avoid chasing perfection blindly. Every task should meet a basic quality level, but sometimes “good enough” in the right context is precisely what’s needed for balance.

Should you prioritise processes over tools?

TLDR: Process > tools

When running any business, there’s another key question (so many questions!): should you focus more on processes or tools? This choice can shape day-to-day effectiveness and the ability to adapt to new challenges.

“Tools are there to support processes,” Simon says. “You need to first understand your processes and make sure they’re not stifling creativity. Only then should you match them with tools that enhance efficiency.”

"“Tools should empower people to focus on what makes them human rather than just automating tasks.”"

Jess weighs in, “The foundation should always be the process. If a tool doesn’t enhance a well-defined process, its usefulness is debatable. Relying too much on tools without a strong process can leave us feeling trapped. The key is to understand your process thoroughly. By sticking to its fundamentals, we can avoid getting overwhelmed by the array of available tools.”

To recap, understanding and refining your processes is crucial before introducing tools. Tools should enhance processes and enable individuals, not just automate tasks. A well-defined process remains essential; tools merely support it.

Managing significant change

Jessica and Simon are no strangers to the rollercoaster of change in business. So, how exactly do they tackle those big, looming shifts in the way things are done?

Simon says, “Big changes can be scary because there’s a lot that can go wrong. Small, step-by-step changes might not always get us to our big goal. But, if you have a clear picture of where you want to end up, you can take small steps towards that big goal.”

Building on that, Jessica points out, “Sometimes, it’s good to take a break and really look at what you’re doing. If something’s not working or if it’s too hard to deliver, you need to ask: ‘How can we make this better or more fun? Or maybe a bit different?’ This lets you rethink everything instead of just making tiny changes here and there.”

Let’s see if we’ve got that straight: navigating change effectively means focusing on the big picture while taking calculated small steps toward it. If things aren’t aligning, it’s wise to pause and reflect. After all, a few good nights of rest can offer fresh insights. Make sense?



Handling resistance to change

Change can be challenging, especially when met with resistance from those directly impacted. Simon shares his view on navigating such resistance effectively.

"”There’s something about establishing a clear need for change. People need to grasp the bigger picture, understanding not only what’s changing, but also why it’s happening.”"

“Before making any changes, talk to your team and do your homework,” Simon says. “Understand what’s really needed and how the new change will be used in their daily tasks. So, you’re not just changing for the sake of it, but genuinely addressing their needs and improving things.”

Jessica also emphasises the value of an external perspective during change: “When managing complex change, internal discussions can sometimes become bogged down with challenges and negativity. An external expert can help create a constructive space, allowing teams to voice concerns but also encouraging solutions. This external facilitation can diffuse any tension, making the change process smoother.”

Putting it very simply: to manage resistance to change, clearly communicate its purpose and consult with your team on its impact. What’s more, an external mediator can help address tensions, making it easier for employees to get on board change.

Hear it firsthand

Our conversation with Jessica Gregson and Simon Wakeman has unlocked valuable insights for success in business. Remember:

  • The ideal is to combine both efficiency and effectiveness – doing the right tasks in the most resource-efficient way.
  • When deciding between doing more or doing better, think about the task’s ultimate purpose and what you want to achieve.
  • Tools should support processes, not the other way around.
  • Approach significant change by focusing on the bigger picture and taking small steps towards it.
  • Clearly communicate the need and purpose of change, consulting with the team to understand its impact and address their needs.

We’ve summarised heavily here. Listen to the full podcast for more nuanced insights. Jessica and Simon also explore other interesting topics like making sure tech aids—not impedes—your workflow, and using data to gauge tool effectiveness.

Don’t miss out! Tune in now.