“There are only two qualities in the world: efficiency and inefficiency; and only two sorts of people: the efficient and the inefficient.”
— Josh Billings
The norm has been established and the machine is set in motion. High productivity is the name of the game. The objectives are clearly posted and the goal ascertained. This is an honest-to-goodness test of efficiency. At the end of the day, the operation stops and the evaluation of performance is released. Perfect. Everybody is satisfied. The goal has finally been reached. Once again, the system has been proven efficient. The best use of time, effort and resources is graded excellent. Expanding this scenario to the level of actual life on a daily basis, we call it an accomplishment of a tall order, i.e., of a high calling.
However, this storyline remains to be an ideal whose practical realization requires a herculean endeavor. What we see in reality a lot of times is its diametrical contrast. Substandard quality performances that mess up objectives and crush goals. An entire project getting completely demolished and vanished into oblivion. Large-scale wastage of big-budget resources that simply go down the drain in the wink of an eye. This is the aftermath of large-scale inefficiency perpetrated by reckless practitioners entrusted with lofty responsibilities and expected to discharge high-quality accomplishment.
But whose fault is all this fiasco? Does the blame go solely to the people directly involved in the project? Fault-finding becomes the main issue at this point and scapegoats are pinpointed in every corner where weaker personalities are found by the stronger ones. Those who have been categorized as the powers-that-be cannot be accused of inefficiency on the basis of this game rule. As if there is an overarching mandate that those in power are not capable of inefficiency. The brunt of blame generally goes to the people on the bottom rung of the corporate ladder. They are the culprits. They must be condemned. Their inefficiency is epic. But are they really the wrongdoers? Is it just to heap all the fury of condemnation on them?
Efficiency or its opposite, inefficiency, has to be viewed within the totality of a system. On one hand, there is a generally exceptional performance of tasks within the whole range of an undertaking because the dynamics that engulf it are characterized by a system of total efficiency. Efficiency is the power charge that trickles down the line from the top echelon to the workforce on the ground. Within these dynamics are the mechanics that are responsibly discharged at all levels and in all sectors by capable and well-trained practitioners endowed with a high sense of accountability, reliability, and credibility.
On the other hand, inefficiency becomes the pattern of events in a particular state of affairs fundamentally because of the pervading system of inefficient leadership. The tracing of the roots of inefficiency–as in tracking down the source of efficiency in the previous discussion–goes uninterruptedly upwards to the quality of administrators on the topmost stratum of the organizational pecking order, so to speak. Having this in mind leads us to infer that though the most visible cases of inefficiency are witnessed on the ground level, the real culprits of gross inefficiency are those that occupy the top-level posts.
Inefficient government employees in villages, towns or cities are the exact reflections of the inefficiency of their immediate superiors while the inefficiency of the latter is a replication of the same that characterizes their immediate superiors. The tracing moves on and on and on upwards until the last point at the uppermost level is reached and this obviously is the leader of the national government. This condition is the basis of the principle of command responsibility which works most distinctively and effected most effectively in the organizational structure of the military sector.
On the basis of the military chain of command, the inefficiency of top-ranking officers trickles down to the inefficient performance of foot soldiers in the field. Any stupid activities committed by a soldier is, therefore, a reflection of the stupidity of the immediate superior. The bucket does not stop at this point because the situation calls for the question, “Why is this officer stupid?” The most definite response is because he has never been properly monitored by his own immediate superior officer and the tracking order goes on and on upwards.
Under normal circumstances, the military system cannot tolerate inefficiency. The same applies to private business companies. Inefficiency in the world of business means wide-ranging–even sweeping financial–losses that most likely end up to bankruptcy. In contrast, national governments can afford inefficiency. In fact, a lot of governments in various parts of the world are unabashedly inefficient and such is the major factor that makes the nations of these governments economically, politically and socially weak under the pervading culture of corruption perpetrated by the inefficient government leaders themselves.
(c) Ruel F. Pepa, 22 May 2019