Learn about the most important practical principles of the Pareto Principle | Rule 20 - 80

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Rule 20 - 80


Learn about the most important practical principles of the Pareto Principle | Rule 20 - 80

The 20-80 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, is an aphorism that asserts that 80% of outcomes (or outputs) result from 20% of all causes (or inputs) for any given event. In business, the 20-80 rule aims to identify potentially productive information and make them the priority. For instance, once managers identify factors critical to their company's success, they should focus on them.

Although the 20-80 axiom is frequently used in business and economics, you can apply the concept to any field—such as wealth distribution, personal finance, and spending habits.

Pareto Principle
Understanding the 20-80 Rule

You may think of the 20-80 rule as simple cause and effect: 80% of outcomes (outputs) come from 20% of reasons (inputs). The rule is often used to point out that 80% of a company's revenue is generated by 20% of its customers. In this way, it might be advantageous for a company to focus on the 20% of clients responsible for 80% of revenues and market specifically to them—to help retain those clients and acquire new clients with similar characteristics.

Core Principle

At its core, the 20-80 rule identifies an entity's best assets and uses them efficiently to create maximum value. For example, a student should remember which parts of a textbook will benefit an upcoming exam most and focus on those first. This does not imply, however, that the student should ignore the other parts of the textbook.

The 20-80 rule needs to be more accurate. Sometimes the misunderstanding results from a logical fallacy—namely, that if 20% of inputs are most important, the other 80% must not be necessary. At other times, the confusion stems from the coincidental 100% sum.

The 20-80 rule is a precept, not a hard-and-fast mathematical law. In the rule, it is a coincidence that 80% and 20% equal 100%. Inputs and outputs represent different units, so the percentage of inputs and outputs does not need to equal 100%.

Business managers from all industries use the 20-80 rule to help narrow their focus and identify those problems that cause the most crises in their departments and institutions.

General View about the 20-80 Rule
General View about the 20-80 Rule

The 20-80 rule—also known as the Pareto principle and applied in Pareto analysis—was first used in macroeconomics to describe the distribution of wealth in Italy in the early 20th century. It was introduced in 1906 by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, best known for the concepts of Pareto efficiency.

Pareto noticed that 20% of the pea pods in his garden were responsible for 80% of the peas. Pareto expanded this principle to macroeconomics by showing that 80% of the wealth in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.

In the 40s of the last century, Dr. Joseph Juran, prominent in operations management, applied the 20-80 rule to quality control for business production. He demonstrated that 80% of product defects were caused by 20% of the problems in production methods. A business could increase its quality by focusing on and reducing 20% of production problems. Juran coined this phenomenon "the vital few and the trivial many."

Benefits of the 20-80 Rule
Benefits of the 20-80 Rule

Although there is little scientific analysis that either proves or disproves the 20-80 rule's validity, much anecdotal evidence supports the rule as being essentially valid, if not numerically accurate.

Performance results of salespeople in a wide range of businesses have demonstrated success by incorporating the 20-80 rule. In addition, external consultants who use Six Sigma and other management strategies have included the 20-80 principle in their practices with good results.

Real-Life Examples of the 20-80 Rule
Real-Life Examples of the 20-80 Rule

Youssef was a graduate student at Mansoura University, working on a mission in digital communications. The project was to create a blog and monitor its success during a semester. Youssef designed, developed, and launched the website. Halfway through the semester, the professor conducted a blog review, and although Yousef's blog had some exposure, it had the least amount of traffic compared to his colleagues' blogs.

When Has the 20-80 Rule Been Applied?

Youssef read about the 20-80 rule. Since it is said that you can use this concept in any field, Youssef started thinking about how to apply the 20-80 rule to his blog project. He thinks: "I spent a lot of my; time, technical capabilities, and writing experiences to create this blog. However, despite all this energy, I get very few visits to the site."

He realized that even if a piece of the content were terrific, it would be worth almost nothing if no one reads it. Youssef concluded that his blog marketing may have been a bigger problem than the blog itself.

To implement the 20-80 rule, Youssef allocated "80%" to creating the blog, including its content as "20%". He divided the visitors of the blog. Using web analytics, Youssef focused closely on blog traffic, asking about.

  • What sources make up the top 20% of traffic to my blog?
  • Who are the top 20% of my audience I want to reach?
  • What are the characteristics of this audience as a group?
  • Can I afford more money and effort to satisfy the top 20% of readers?
  • Regarding content, which blog posts make up the top 20% of my top-performing topics?
  • Can I improve on these topics and get more traction from my range than now?

Youssef Has analyzed these Questions and Modified His Blog Accordingly:

He modified the blog design to align with the top 20% of the target audience. It is a common strategy in marketing. Then he rewrote some of the content to meet the target reader's needs fully.

Although his analysis confirmed that the blog's biggest problem was its marketing, Youssef should have paid attention to its content. He remembered the common fallacy cited in the article - if 20% of the input was necessary, then the other 80% must be unimportant - and he wanted to avoid making that mistake.

Applying the 20-80 rule to his blog project made Youssef better understand his audience and purposefully targeted the top 20% of readers. He reworked the blog's structure and content based on his learning. As a result, visits to his site increased by more than 220%.

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