Efficiency and effectiveness aren’t terms you stumble upon in your typical youth. You have to look for the ideas before you’ve learned the words.
I must have been about 15 or 16 early in my high school career. For reasons that I have no memory of, I signed up (or was signed up) for an after school activity called Junior Achievement. The premise is to learn how business works by starting a small company with a group of other students. You choose a product, make it, and sell it. A gentle introduction to capitalism.
As I said, I may have been pushed into this more than choosing it for myself although that runs very contrary to the way my parents worked.
How I got there isn’t really the point.
I did it for two years.
In the second year I was somehow in charge of our little company despite being younger than most of the other participants. Our product was jumper cables to sell to car owners to restart dead batteries. We had to obtain the raw materials and parts, cut cable to size, assemble and package the cable sets, and sell them to prospective customers.
The salient memory for me is how we managed to sell our products. The implicit premise of this whole endeavor was to imitate all of the functions of a typical small business. In the mythology of American small business that included selling door-to-door. An activity meant to build character and grit I’m sure. Also an activity that terrorized an introverted young teen boy.
I have no memory of whose idea it was. Unlikely that it was mine. Doesn’t matter. We chose to approach local fire and police departments and sold to them in bulk to equip their fleets. For a little bit more effort we got a lot more result. We ended up at or near the top of all the other companies in the program that year.
The lessons baked into the Junior Achievement program were meant to be about the value of hard work, cooperation, and diligence. All good lessons. But the seed planted was the value of thinking problems through before charging ahead.
We encourage diligence. It’s easy to see and evaluate and promote.
But the real payoff goes to clever.