Effectiveness, the goose that laid the golden egg, and you


How can I be more effective?

Am I effective?

What is effectiveness?

Why my team isn't working effectively?

I have big relationship problems with my family.


The goose that laid the golden egg (Aesop's fable)

 A man and his wife owned a very special goose. Every day the goose would lay a golden egg, which made the couple very rich. Only one egg per day, but a golden one.

"Just think," said the man's wife, "If we could have all the golden eggs that are inside the goose, we could be richer faster."

"You're right," said her husband, "We wouldn't have to wait for the goose to lay her egg every day."

So, the couple killed the goose and cut her open, only to find that she was just like every other goose. She had no golden eggs inside of her at all, and they had no more golden eggs.

True effectiveness vs effectiveness

If you search the dictionary for the term "effectiveness" you will find:

"Effectiveness is the capability of producing a desired result".

This is almost true. As the story shows, true effectiveness is a function of two things: what is produced (the golden eggs) and the producing asset or capacity to product (the goose).

If you focus only in one of the two factors you will soon lose both. If you focus only in  the results you will soon be without the capability to produce. If you focus only to the producing asset without getting results soon you won't have the ability neither to produce or to take care your producing asset.

Stephen Covey, first mentioned that in our complicated and distracted world, true effectiveness lies in the balance of  P/PC. P stands for production of desired results (the golden eggs). PC stands for production capability, the ability or asset that produces the result (the goose in our story).

If you want to be truly effective you have to get results in a way that you can have these results over and over again. You have to work both, the Production of desired results and the Production Capability.

Your story (and mine also)

Because our world is based mainly on what you can see and not to what really exists under the first impression the examples of not true effectiveness are countless. We all try to have results fast, and when this sometimes happens (sometimes because of hard work, sometimes accidentally) we focus only in producing results and we forget about the producing asset, the producing capability. Then, one day we wake up and we realize that we have lost it all.

Example 1: My car broke down

You have just bought a new car after working hard for a lot of years and now at last you have the ability to make easy long distance trips from one town to another. And you start travelling again and again. You are seeing some beautiful places (you are producing results). This is truly wonderful and you deserve it after working hard to buy the car, but if you don't work in the P/PC balance you will soon run out of results. Sometime soon you have to stop producing results (travelling) and take care of the producing capability (take care of the car). If you don't do it for a very long period, then eventually the car will stop working. If this happens, then you probably lose both factors. You won't  travel and if the damage is very big you won't be able to repair it. This is so true as the gravity law for our earth, you cannot skip it in any way.

Example 2: I have terrible relationships with my family

Our world is extremely demanding and distracting. We have to work hard to get results (and money) so we work a lot of hours. We find a job, probably after graduation, and we work countless hours on this job. We take work at home, we work on weekends, etc. Suddenly one day, maybe after some years, we realize that relationships with our family (wife, kids, parents) are bad. We cannot communicate, we cannot have fun together, we cannot even stay together in the same room for a lot of time. For all that years we didn't work on our family, we didn't work on our Producing Capability, so now the physical result is that we cannot Produce results. If we spent time, if we worked hard with our family, then the situation would be different.

Don't wonder if your situation is somehow like this. You haven't worked your Production Capability, you cannot Produce. It is as simple as this. Nothing more complicated. If you think your situation with an open-mind it would be easy to understand it.

Example 3: Paralysis by analysis

You want to be the best in your profession! So you study. You graduate with an A, you do an M.Sc., then a Ph.D, then a post-Doc, then you are taking part of some very good seminars, then you do an MBA. One day you will be the best! 

You soon realize that you are over 40 and you have never worked in the business field you like. You just studied. You have never produced results. All that years you were working on your Producing Capability and you forgot to Produce. But the big fun is in the Producing experience!

Example 4: My team never listens to me. I have to 'chase' them all day to do the job.

Common problem. You are doing your best, but your team isn't following. You always have to chase them to do the job. They never finish the job on time, they never do it like you want it to do.

You have focused on the results, but you haven't been working on your team's Producing Capability. Have you spent time explaining what you want? Have you spent time explaining what your standards are, how you want the job done? Have you worked with your colleagues to understand in which phase they are, what training they need, to do their job better, what personal problems they have? If you have spent that time, even sometimes, then you know that at that time you cannot produce results. When you are talking about your quality standards to your team or when a colleague of yours is getting a training you cannot have results. You are just working your Producing Capability. But in the future you will have the ability to produce even better results.

Example 5: My company results are bad!

The basic resource of all companies are humans. Even if you are using big machines to produce results, there are people who conduct machines. If your company results are bad and your machines are working fine, then it is humans you have to watch about. This is the most important asset in every company that can overcome any difficulty.

"You can buy a person's hand, but you can't buy his heart. His heart is where his enthusiasm, his loyalty is. You can buy his back, but you can't buy his brain. That's where his creativity is, his ingenuity, his resourcefulness". This is so true. 

If you know some companies from inside you know that this is the basic rule. If a company is going well (having results) for a long period of time then this company is taking good care of its resources and mostly human resources. If a company had some good results in the past, but now is falling apart the basic commonest reason is that its Production Capability is going to zero.

True effectiveness is a habit, a productivity habit

To achieve results you need resources. There are three basic categories of resources: physical, financial, and human. For any kind of resource you are using you have to work in both factors of effectiveness, Producing results and Producing Capability, to achieve true effectiveness, to achieve results over and over again.

Working for true effectiveness isn't something accidental. You have first to realize the basic law of balancing P/PC and then you have to make it  a habit. You have to make a habit working in both factors of effectiveness. It is the only way to get the results you want for a very long time.

Only this habit to try to form, in your everyday life, I believe that it is enough to be successful.


Working in both factors of the P/PC balance, is not an excuse not to work hard. For example " I cannot work 10 hours a day because I am tired, I have to take care myself, I have to take a nap".

If you want results, if you want to achieve, if you have big goals you have to work hard, really hard. But you have to work in both factors, Producing results and Producing Capability. You have to take care and always have in mind the balance of those two factors. Work hard, but not only in one field, work the balance.

TAKE ACTION NOW (this is for you!)

  1. Pick one or two goals you are working now.
  2. List the results you are having in each goal.
  3. List the actions you are doing to increase the production capability for each goal.
  4. Note down the period of time you are having the wanted results.
  5. Do you note any relation between the time you spend in both factors and the time you are having the wanted results?
  6. Keep the results of this assessment in a special "TAKE ACTION' folder in your computer or in your office desk (if you do it on paper). Create a habit of working on the data of this 'TAKE ACTION' folder at least once a month. Decide what ACTIONS you will take from this work.


The principle of true effectiveness is so basic that  you cannot skip it in any way. You may try but at the end you will find it in front of you. As soon as you realized it and as soon as you form it as a habit in your everyday life you will start having the results you want.

To your productivity!



Resources for the above article



For humans it is always easier to do something when we talk about it

Mail me at  john @ productivity-habits.com  (remove spaces)
Send me your comments personally from the contact form
Comment in public below 

I would really appreciate any feedback (positive or negative) to the article or to THE ACTION suggested with any of the above options. One of the main reasons for the existence of this site is INTER-ACTION-. Thanks in advance.