Thursday, November 1, 2007

Why little things are important

Sometimes the "little things" really are important. That is one of the implications of the Pareto Principle, otherwise known as the 80-20 rule. In 1906, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto noted that 20% of the population owned 80% of the wealth and created a mathematical formula to describe the phenomenon. Other observers made similar findings, including Dr. Joseph Juran, who observed the law of the "vital few and the trivial many."

Now I must confess that math is not my strong point, but the 80-20 rule does seem consistent with human experience. In my own life, there are a few daily disciplines that, when ignored, have tremendous impact.

To think this means that you can achieve 80% of your results with only 20% of the effort would be to misread Pareto's Law. Instead, consider it as a reminder that there are an important 20% of your activities that are worth 80% of your effort.

The real trick, of course, is figuring out that 20%.

IDEA LEADER: Identify the "little things" in your life that have a big impact. Take action by not ignoring them.

1 comment:

Thomas said...

Good advice--I think that email/internet/etc. has actually made that 20% harder to discern. I can work for hours on the 80% and feel I have done a lot, but got nothing done. When I find myself stuck at my desk wondering what to tackle next, I try to ask, "What is the one thing I could do right now that would make the biggest impact?"