A quote from the evening:
Both efficiency and effectiveness are important,
but no amount of efficiency can outweigh ineffectiveness.
Effectiveness is key.
I chuckle again as I study -- we, as Americans, are trained in the concepts of EFFICIENCY and EFFECTIVENESS. We want measurable outcomes. When it comes to productivity, we don't like to waste time, waste space, waste energy.
My Cambodian collegues used to chuckle at me when I would struggle with this cultural baggage. I struggled in trying to balance being culturally understanding/sensitive while holding different values. Efficiency and effectiveness relates to the concept of productivity, which, for example, means we monitor and measure various aspects: the way it's done, how fast it's done, how to know when it is done and how to measure its quality.
In Cambodia time didn't matter, and it was always better to double up on the amount of people energy invested as people like working together. Individualism is not valued and worrying about time over relationships is an unspoken sin. Cambodians, when confronted with these two terms/concepts, were more apt to measure effectiveness of a program in the number of people who were happy because of the program, not how much positive change occurred as a result of the program. And I really don't think many Cambodians really ever understood efficiency. In fact there is really no word native to the Khmer language which translates the meaning efficiency.
More and more Cambodians are starting to understand the difference in the Western mindset as they study abroad or work with Western organizations which run their aid/development programs based on these concepts. These same Cambodians. in turn, are asked to understand, translate and then exhibit the qualities. Furthermore, they are evaluated as employees based on these values which are foreign to them. Villagers at the grassroots levels wonder at the new language and foreign practices they hear and see in the Cambodians who work among them from the Western organizations.
The sad part to me is that Westerners often cannot comprehend that it is OK to do work without considering how effective or efficient it is. They simply see inefficiency and ineffectiveness as "wrong" and wonder when the Cambodians will just start doing things the "right way."