Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Can We Vote Out This Rule?

Can We Please Cancel
the 80-20 Rule?

You know that rule, it has many expressions like 80% of the problems are caused by 20% of the issues, or, flipped over, 20% of the effort completes 80% of the work. You can spin this concept many ways and it seems to work well in all sorts of situations. This concept is also known as the Pareto principle, or the law of the vital few, and works in the natural world as well as business and economics.

What I find discouraging is that if 20% of the effort completes 80% of a project, then the final 20% of a project will require overwhelming effort -- 80%. Experience says this is true.

In practical terms, I have reorganized my office/work space for the most part (80%). The big things are moved, hooked up, reinstalled, and working. But it is those oddball piles of papers, magazines, gadgets, and whatnot that are not yet finalized. Are these my "vital few"? They create 80% of my frustration as they glare and scold all day long.

The quick solution is to sort: filing, trash, recycling, or shredding. Why is that so hard? In researching about the Pareto principle I discovered that a common misconception is that the numbers must add to 100. In a given situation 80-10 or 80-30 may be more accurate. All of which means there are many ways to stall that sorting process with research!

If you look ahead to St. Patrick's Day, here are a couple of my jewelry pieces that may provide 80% of your Gaelic wonder. The links go to my online shop where there are more details and images.