The 80/20 Rule

Otherwise known as the Pareto Principle, I had heard enough about this idea over the years and finally decided I needed to read the book. Obviously the idea wasn’t invented by Richard Kock, Vilfred Pareto was an Italian economist in the 1890s, but this is the first book on the subject. The 80/20 rule itself is really just short hand for the idea that most systems are disproportionate in at least some ways. It might be that 20 percent of employees produce 80 percent of the results or 95 percent of complaints come from from only 5 percent of the customers. Whatever the form, the universe abhors balance and thus this principle exists.

The chapters expand a great deal from there. The first half of the book is how to apply the principle in the corporate world and the second half is how to apply it for personal success and happiness.

Favorite Ideas

Get rid of the idea that effort and reward are closely linked. This is really hard for me because I was always brought up to believe that hard work is rewarded. Yet in recent months I have come to strongly question this entire teaching. In a recent interview with Tim Ferris, he described how for all of his recent projects he has been starting them by asking the question, “What would this look like if it were easy?” Things don’t have to be hard and we often make them hard without a good reason.

A second favorite idea is that the biggest wins always start small. I have noticed this recently in my day to day life and it has helped propel me much faster.

Favorite Quotes

It would be far better to start from the proposition that your industry is all screwed up and could be structured much more effectively…

The road to hell is paved with the pursuit of volume.

Poor performance is always endemic, hiding behind a smaller amount of excellent performance.

Other Notes

5 Rules to Decision Making

  1. Not many decisions are very important
  2. The most important decisions are often made by default meaning you didn’t recognize them
  3. Gather 80% of the data & perform 80% of the analysis in the first 20% of the time
  4. If your decision isn’t working, change your mind early
  5. When something is going well, double down

Project Management

  • Simply the objective
  • Impose impossible timescales
  • Plan before you act
  • Design before you implement

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