It's All About the Data

It's All About the Data
It's All About the Data

Monday, January 27, 2014

80/20 Rule

The phrase 80/20 rule gets used by a lot of pundits to describe "that 80 percent of all our results in business and in life stem from a mere 20 percent of our efforts". 

The original 80/20 rule came from the Pareto Principal which talks about root cause analysis - 80% of effects come from 20% of the causes.

My 80/20 Rule
It has been my experience that the first 80% of any task or project takes 20% of the time - and - the last 20% of a task or project takes 80% of the time.

Here are some examples:
  1. Trade partners (construction subcontractors) will get about 80% of the work done, leaving 20% to be found by others.
  2. Students will prepare for about 80% of the test material, hoping the last 20% will not be on the test.
  3. Kids will clean 80% of their room, and hide the last 20% under the bed or closet.
  4. Team members are gung ho to finish the first 80%, but have other priorities at the last 20%.

Why the last 20% needs the most attention?
It needs the attention because that is where the 'finish' zone is at.  The finish zone is where all the:
  • Synthesis is done
  • Customer receives the value of the service
  • The job /task/project is DONE and COMPLETE.

The last 20% may be the hardest part, but it is worthy of the same attention and dedication and thoughtfulness as the first 80%.  Here are some strategies:
  1. Understand the last 20% will be harder and give it appropriate amount of project time.
  2. Give the effort that is required.  It is hard being the last 20% team member but I say it is rewarding to be part of the 'finishing' team.
  3. Use more checks and balances so the last 20% is not so much about fixing things (see Last Planner, Agile methodology, and writing effective requirements ).

Finally the pundits say "that 80 percent of all our results in business and in life stem from a mere 20 percent of our efforts".  I think here they are talking about most of our time in life and business is spent not in productive pursuits.  How much time do we spend trying to find that email the boss sent out that he/she wants an answer on?  Too much time, I agree.   

A job worth doing is worth doing well (and complete).  Plan well and good execution is the key to success.


David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (www.ideateinc.com).  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech.

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