Tuesday, September 01, 2009

80/20 principle

I read the 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch during a trip last week.
It's an excellent book that has some really important ideas for anyone
that is even mildly lazy. He goes through the easy wins of business analysis,
which is obvious until you actually try and do it (shut down unprofitable
businesses, "but they pay the overhead!").

The real heart of the book goes into applying the 80/20 principle to your
life and career. Most of your production comes from a small amount of your
effort, so focus more time and attention on that small amount instead of spreading
yourself evenly across all activities. If you work on the assembly line this won't
work, but anyone with a technical job or a sales job, a lot of time is just wasted
not moving towards the real goals.

The examples I used explaining this to my wife were Dr. house or Don Draper from
Mad Men. Dr house mostly walks around popping vicodin all day while his assistants
do most of the work until he has some flash of insight and solves the problem.
Don Draper mostly walks around drinking and smoking, has short, to the point meetings
then sends his minions to do the scutwork while he goes off to sleep with some chick.

My wife didn't like that part of the metaphor, but either guy gets his real job done
without caring to spend time punching the clock at the office or doing make-work.
The crucial thing is to decide what is the real productive part of the job using 80/20
analysis, then focus on that while drinking and chasing bimbos. (kidding).


ponderman said...

of course if you are a supervisor of a group of people the 80/20 rule means that 20% of your people cause 80% of your problems.

Joe said...

exactly! one whiny lazy person causes more headaches than all else combined. If I ever have to supervise people again and whiny lazy person threatens to quit they'll be out the door before you can say knife.

ponderman said...

the corrolary to the 80/20 rule; and i have experienced it is if you remove the irritating person another will step up and take their place.