Taming Time - Time Management Skills
Taming Time  - Time Management Skills

Time Management > Pareto Principle > Whats Behind the 80 20 Principle?

What's Behind the 80 20 Principle?

You have probably heard of the 80 20 rule before. Sometimes people call it the 80 20 rule, Pareto Law, the law of vital few, the principle of imbalance and the principle of least effort. It can be applied in many areas of life and it is one of the fundamentals when in comes to time management.

In my opinion, it is one of the most underutilized principles out there. The 80 20 rule shows that some things are much more important than others, as they yield a much higher return on investment (whether that is time, money or something else entirely!)

A Lesson in History

So today we are having bit of a history lesson, to learn about from whence this great little concept came from. Meet Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. He made it his job to study patterns of wealth and income in 19th century England and found it to be greatly unbalanced. So he decided to look further into it and discovered that a business would often receive 80% of their revenue from just 20% of the client base.

Shortly after Pareto realized that it wasn't just England at this time period showing this disparity of wealth allotment. He uncovered the fact that this pattern repeated itself throughout Englands history and that other countries wealth patterns mimicked those found in England. With mathematical precision the patterns kept repeating over and over and over....

As Pareto developed his formula he moved on to develop a series of sociological theories. Over time the importance of his discovery of the 80 20 principle, became dormant for a while. Later on modern researchers started to note this pattern of 80 20 in their own fields of research. Along came Joseph Juran.

Juran and Japan Bring the Pareto Principle West

Joseph Juran was the one eventually responsible for 'outing' this universal principle. Juran was behind the Quality Revolution of 1950 - 90 and recognized a universal phenomenon that he called the principle of "the vital few and the trivial many". Josephs principle is very similar to Pareto's 80 20 principle.

Jurans ideas were introduced to Japan, where he was invited to lecture and met a receptive audience. He successfully transformed the value and quality of the Japanese consumer goods for various Japanese corporations. In the 1970s Japan was experiencing economical prosperity, and US industry began to feel threatened. The 80 20 principle was at the heart of the Quality Revolution.

As a result of the principles effect on the Quality Revolution, the Pareto rule started to be taken seriously in the Western world.

So history is all well and good, but how can you add the 80 20 rule to your arsenal of time management strategies?

Where to Next?

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