Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things. - Peter F Drucker
When I applied for a job for the first time, my resume contained this entry:
Skills: MS Office
I had no formal education in MS Office (So are most of us!). All I knew was self learnt.
I was called for an interview. Part of the interview was test designed for me in a desktop. It was time bound. I had to answer questions. Many of them were generic but some were MS Office specific. They were practical that tested my skills in MS Word and MS Excel. Since I could complete the other generic questions easily, I had ample time to do the Office part of the test. I completed the test on time. Based on my performance in the test, I was selected for the job. And I, a staff "skilled in MS office", was placed in a team that was working with MS Office day in and day out. Thus began my corporate career.
Slowly, the workload increased and I was not able to keep pace with the workload that was filling my inbox (in Outlook, of course). I was wondering what to do. I sought the help of an expert in the team. He said he would help. And he helped. He sat beside me for some time while I worked and observed how I worked in MS Office. Then came the prescription to my malady. "Though you are an efficient worker, you need to become effective". I asked him what it meant.
Here is what he said:
MS Office is built to help users do their work not only efficiently but also become effective information workers. That is the reason why there are thousands of - nearly 8000 - features built in it that will help people arrive at better results faster. And Microsoft keeps adding more and more features they realize will help people become more productive in their jobs. This is done after a lot of effortful research and extensive surveys among the users of these everyday tools. Each of the features found there is to aid in saving time and effort in handling data, crunching numbers, generating presentable reports and creating visualization that will appeal to the user in terms of information for decision making as well as content that is pleasing to the eye of the beholder.
While there are multiple ways to arrive at a result using MS Office, there are very effective ways to arrive at better results and in a shorter amount of time and with less effort. Many of the activities that people tend to waste time on can be accomplished in just two or three clicks. And they are not far away. They are located somewhere close-by the very same features that one might be familiar with but never took an effort to explore or know. A small additional effort by the user to try the respective command or option might prove to be a productivity booster of unknown proportions. All it takes is a genuine effort by the user to know better and do things more effectively. This will lead to a lot of time saving and you will be able to complete all you work in a very short amount of time. You will have enough time to even learn more time saving techniques that will make you more productive in the long run. And who knows, you might stand in line for a promotion or a Salary hike in the near future. You can climb faster in your career to levels that you have never even dreamt of.
Sage Advice, I thought.
My friend even showed me a couple of examples of what he really meant when he said "a few clicks away". (Shift F3 in Word was one and Paste Special Transpose in Excel was another). Surely, I had been wasting my time on my reports that could have been completed in a fraction of the time I had used to take. And they were becoming more presentable and informative.
From then on, I was helping my boss to arrive at better informed decisions through my reports. And believe me I was chosen as the best team member of the month in a very short period.
I was looking forward to the next version of MS Office as it should contain more productivity features that might help me become a decison maker rather than a feeder of information to make excellent decision.
MS Office - A great (and fast) career growth determiner indeed!