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The 80-20 Principle

Updated: Dec 12, 2019

Most of what you do has little impact on your results. A vital few things you do create nearly all your results. If you improve the vital few, you can easily achieve your target.

The Birth Of 80/20

In 1906, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto created a mathematical formula to describe the unequal distribution of wealth in England, observing that 20% of the people owned 80% of the land.

Feeling that England had become an economically unfair place, he was stunned when he applied it across European country borders. Again, 80% of the land was owned by only 20% of the population.

Then when he applied the same calculations back through time, he found the same thing: the top 20% controlled 80% of the wealth.

The Vital Few Versus The Trivial Many After Pareto made his observation and created his formula, Dr. Joseph Juran, working in the US in the 1930s and 40s, recognized a universal principle he called the ‘vital few and trivial many’.

As a result, Dr. Juran discovered that 20% of the defects on a production line were causing 80% of the problems.

The top 20% of authors sell 80% of the books. The top 20% of criminals commit 80% of crime. The 80-20 principle is everywhere.

Consider these 80-20 assumptions Do 20% of your clothes get worn 80% of the time? Do 20% of the people you know contribute to 80% of your happiness? Do 20% of your projects, clients or customers account for 80% of your work (or your profits)?

Am I right?

An exercise What are the right things to be doing - the Vital Few? Spend more time on these.

What are the wrong things to be doing - the Trivial Many? Write a ‘not to do’ list. Reduce your time on these.

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