I think Lean practitioners should replace the word EFFICIENT with EFFECTIVE.
This thought has been ruminating in my mind since reading Timothy Ferriss “The 4-Hour Workweek“. The book explains how you do not want to spend your time being efficient on tasks that are not effective. It reminds me that we do not want to be efficient with non-value-added tasks, we want to remove those wastes.
Lean is sometimes lumped into the category of “efficient changes” but it really goes deeper than that. Lean is all about optimizing effectiveness. Procedures will become efficient as a result of the attention to being more effective. By stating our purpose to increase effectiveness, the efficiencies will follow. Replacing a simple word has a deep impact.
I recommend Kevin Meyer’s post from Evolving Excellence about how this book can apply to Lean thinking: Productivity: Eliminate Before You Optimize.