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Don’t Overlook the 80/20 Rule: Lesson Learned!

By Natalia Tribunskaya posted 09/25/23 06:20 PM


Article by @Shamir Doshi

Don’t Overlook the 80/20 Rule: Lesson Learned!


“What's the one thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” That’s the focusing question that Gary Keller helps you answer in his book “The One Thing'.   It’s also a question that has made him highly productive and very successful!  To my surprise (but also very validating!) one of the mindsets he uses is a key tool that is also used by Quality, Lean and Six Sigma professionals, called the Pareto principle!

First revealed by an economist in the 1900's and later developed for quality issues in the 1940's, developing an 80/20 mindset is as fundamental today, to most Quality professionals, as making your bed, another powerful principle I have been taking for granted, apparently.    The Pareto Principle posits that roughly 80% of effects come from 20% of causes and works in many systems and scenarios.   It’s not a perfect concept, and doesn't apply rigidly to every situation, but try it and you might see a pattern that will guide your decisions and actions in a better direction.

If you've never heard of it, here's an example: Imagine cooking one of your favorite meals... of all the cooking utensils in your kitchen, you may only use a few.  You might also discover that those same few utensils could be used for 80% of your meals!   Now re-imagine the space with those tools closer to you, and right within reach.    How will that change your work?  How does that help you focus on the task?  Back at the workplace, a Lean practitioner may use 80/20 thinking to help teams focus on the vital few products that bring in 80% of the revenue, or Six Sigma pros might use it to highlight the leading few causes responsible for 80% of your quality issues.

It's great to see Lean and Quality tools, like the 80/20, in the mainstream. Here's another article that appeared just last week comparing two more powerful Quality tools!   

And this got us thinking at ASQ Ottawa... 🤔

What other key tools, from Quality and Lean (some we may be taking for granted!) that could make all other tools easier or maybe unnecessary?!   What is in your 20% of tools that is driving 80% of the results in your work or business? 

Leave your thoughts below 👇 and maybe we'll see a trend emerge right here!