I learned about this principle relating to work efficiency. It depends on the business and the position but overall it’s at least very often the case that the majority of a work can be done in a short amount of time (for example 80% of the work in 20% of the time). But then work isn’t finished yet..! A lot of work is also often in the details. So very often you have to devote 80% of the time into the last 20% to complete something.

The so called “Pareto Principle” was discovered by Vilfredo Pareto, a progressive thinking Italian with lots of different interests. He was an engineer, sociologist, economist, political scientist, and philosopher. At first he came to the conclusion that 80% of Italy’s land is owned by 20% of the people. Ever since he started to develope this principle and it has been proven to be right in a lot of cases. You can’t and shouldn’t try to relate it to everything. But in a lot of cases it really makes a lot of sense. For example:

– Nature: 80% of an Iceberg are usually under water and only 20% are visible above the sea

– Project Management: 80% of problems are created by 20% of projects

– Software: 80% of all crucial software problems are created by only a few 20% of all existing bugs

– Software User: 80% of software users are only using 20% of all features

– Marketing: 80% of sales can usually be accounted to 20% of the clients

– Sales: 80% of all sales from a company often only comes from a range of 20% of their products

– Work: 80% of the working result is created by only 20% of the workers

– Catastrophic Management: 80% of heavy injuries are caused by 20% of hazards

– In General: 80% of a result is created by only an input of 20%

The Pareto Principle is also called “the 80/20 rule” or referred to as “the law of the vital few”.

I also found a good way to understand this principle visually. Have a look at this videoSomeone drew a car with Microsoft Paint (which is also fun to watch 😉 ) and you can easily see that at 20% (at about one Minute of the video) he finished the outlines. So after 20% of the time you have what makes 80% of the final picture! After that one minute he basicly “just” draws colors to it. Because this is about another four minutes this makes it 80% of the whole time to get the last 20% and finish the result (Described and explained in more detail here in this article).

Sometimes it can help a lot to remind yourself of that principle – when it’s suitable. Things are not always “evened out” and life is not always fair! Try to analyze for yourself where it might make sense and how you can make your use out of knowing about it.

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