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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Can we ever break the 80/20 rule?

Is it possible?

You know the rule, right? It's the Pareto Principle and it is used as a guide for everything from wealth (20% of the people have 80% of the wealth...although it's probably more like 99/1 now), to land ownership (what the original principle was showing in Italy), to the relationship between computer problems and crashes, to what percentage of customers are going to provide the most business.

However, I digress. My question is regarding our teams and their work. Since conventional wisdom says that 20% of the employees perform 80% of the work, as leaders, can we break the Pareto Principle? Is it possible to attract the best talent and hire the best people so we can change the rule?

Another way to look at the Pareto Principle is that 20% of the people are being highly productive and the other 80% are exhibiting less productive traits. What if we could change the percentages to 50% of the people do 50% of the work or even 80% of the people do 80% of the work?

Wouldn't it stand to reason that if 80% of the people were doing 80% of the work, we'd be able to get a lot more work done because more of the employees would be productive?

I believe the Pareto Principle is a guide or a norm. It's where most teams and most companies lie. However, if we are great leaders and bosses who surround ourselves with the best talent and give them outstanding training, guidance, direction, and leadership that allows them to flourish, we are not bound by that principle.

What do you think about breaking out from the norm? What do companies and teams have to do to push the Pareto Principle out of the way? Is it realistic to try?

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