Efficiency versus Creativity

Adesh Kumar Mishra
3 min readSep 10, 2021

Do you want to be more efficient or more creative?

Efficiency relates to the number of goods or services produced while creativity relates to quality.

Being only creative may not produce anything at all whiles being only efficient may not add any further quality to the product we are delivering.

When Industrialization happened back in the 18th century, demand for factory workers soared high. Unfortunately, people were facing food scarcity because of the recurrent famines so they joined factories to make their living. Working conditions were horrendous and exposed employees to many risks and dangers: post-work hours were also not refreshing back then. workers were often housed in cramped, grossly inadequate quarters, only to increase their suffering. The idea was quite simple “Classical Liberalism” which emphasized profit maximization by treating everything at disposal as means to achieve desired end i.e., profit.

Now, we have moved more than three centuries from then, society has seen various economic systems starting from Classical Liberalism to Communism, from American Dream to USSR’s highly centralized economic planning. Every system has its own set of supporters and critics, where J.S Mill advocates for liberty and Marx for freedom.

There are numerous instances when we hear that most people do not like their work or want to leave for better opportunities. We may think this is the problem associated with the company/job/work-culture or the person himself. But as one goes deeper, he finds it to be a conflict between efficiency and creativity (can also be related to freedom from want). Any economy to produce needs an efficient workforce through which socio-economic development can be taken care of. while creativity allows an individual to develop themselves in the manner as they want not as society deems fit.

In today’s competitive world, everyone needs efficiency to survive in this resource-scarce world. You may or may not have experienced it but certainly, you would. With the opening of eyes, the race for survival starts. Some might glorify their struggle for survival, but everything has an opportunity cost associated with it.

The modern concept of efficiency is somehow related to the materialistic notion of life disregarding the spiritual and social parts of life completely. Market forces make us think, perceive, and act in a certain way as they want us to behave but we think it is us who are making the decision. Have you ever thought about why most of us think similarly, behave identically, why everyone ends up doing the same work? It is not that we are born to act in a certain way or to think similarly, it is the market that shapes us and defines success and failure for our life. When we think about success, we mostly think in materialistic ways like hoarding a lot of cash, real estate, luxury goods, and whatnot. This quote from the movie FIGHT CLUB (1999) summarizes It beautifully -

“If you don’t know what you want,” the doorman said, “you end up with a lot you don’t.”

― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

Not knowing the things, we need makes us lifelong confused and fearful, every human being is different and their needs too. There is a requirement to differentiate between need and want, everything that you want may not be your need.

Thus, it is good to be efficient but having the freedom to choose between efficiency and creativity gives us peace of mind. An exceptionally rare and superior virtue amongst all.

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