After reading The Goal, I feel I understand this quite clearly. Before then though, it might have struck me as an odd thing to say.
Businesses must operate with efficiency in mind in order to make money. Individuals should efficiently work their way through tasks efficiency in order to achieve more. This received wisdom felt like axioms on which to build and grow, but actually they can be effectively unwound without difficulty. To our benefit.
A business that becomes more and more efficient at something that is no longer in demand, will fail (sorry, Blockbuster). An individual that finds more and more efficient ways to do ordinary tasks, is unlikely to achieve the extraordinary. Effectiveness is so much more important.
My beloved and I worked in our own small business together for some time, and we had very individual approaches. She is very creative, where I am quite deliberate. She was a source of fresh ideas, where I could readily add value to existing ones. For big leaps forward in design, her inefficiency was the better choice.
I’ve worked in organisations large and small in my haphazard career, and I’ve noticed that a drive only for efficiency rarely brings with it the innovative thinking that delivers great experiences. Neither great for those inside the business, nor great for their customers. The priority must be on doing the must effective thing, accepting that there may be much more efficient uses of the time and resources this takes up.
Inefficiently making a difference is better than efficiently delivering more of the same.