Revisiting the “80/20 rule”

I had lunch recently with a friend who referenced the “80/20 rule” because someone had referenced it to her.  When we compared notes on what it means, we realized that neither of us was entirely sure. I realized in that moment that the term “80/20 rule” is part of my vocabulary but I have lost touch with it’s actual meaning. In the spirit of “Words Matter,” a blog I posted in September last year, I thought it was time to revisit the meaning of these words. In addition, I closed out 2014 by asking the question, “how are you spending the 24 hours you are given each day?” and this concept of “80/20 rule” is completely relevant, as I know that it relates to focus and leveraging time for the greatest impact and value.

What I re-discovered about the “80/20 rule” also known as the Pareto Principle, is that it means that 80% of the effect comes from 20% of the causes. 80% of the sales comes from 20% of the customers. 80% of the complaints come from 20% of the clients. 80% of the sales come from 20% of the products. In other words, as it relates to time management and focus…focus on the 20% that matters. Focus on the 20% that will drive results.

I, in fact, had this wrong. I was operating under the belief that 80% matters, so don’t sweat the last 20%. My interpretation was that once you get to 80%, the effort to achieve that last 20% going from 80 to 100% was not a good return on investment of time. Based upon this incorrect interpretation or recollection of what the “80/20 rule” means, I was devoting my attention to 80% rather […]

Who do you want to be in 2015?


Last week I reflected on the question of how we each spend the 24 hours we are given each day. I am going to continue this line of reflection as we move into 2015, with the annual opportunity to define new beginnings. What are we going to finally start or stop doing? What New Year’s Resolution can I put into place that is going to have a profound and significant impact on the quality of my life? The challenge that many of us share is that we live in overly-scheduled, overly-demanding worlds that make it difficult to pack in all that we desire. My life is no different. I don’t have time to do all that I desire to do? Or do I?

I found a compelling answer in a book called Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul authored by Bill Hybels. Last August I attended the Willow Creek Global Leadership Conference led by Bill about which I wrote two blog postings at the time (What kind of leader do you want to be? and Words Matter). I found the conference to be inspiring and engaging that challenged my thinking on a number of topics. In Simplify, Bill reframed the question that we often ask ourselves as we manage the exploding demands on our time. Rather than asking “what am I going to do today, this week, this month, or this year”…ask “who do I want to BE at the end of today, this week, this month or this year?” As I evaluate each opportunity regarding how I spend my time against the question of who I want to BE, what I choose to do becomes much more clear. The question of who I want to […]

Part 2: Talent Management And Performance Excellence — Goal Setting

Welcome to Part 2 of a 4-part series examining traditional approaches to talent management and asking the question, “Are our traditional talent management systems driving performance excellence and business results?” Is it possible that our current approach to talent management may have policies, procedures and processes that are well-intentioned, but yield unintended negative consequences?

Last week we explored role definition, and this week, we move on to goal setting.  If you missed it, check out Part 1 on role definition.


Part 2: Goal Setting

Once the new employee is hired to do a particular job as described in their job description, we set SMART goals in an attempt to clearly define our expectations of what they are to deliver.  We set goals to determine what is to be accomplished during the coming year, only to find that business needs change.  Yet employees continue to work toward goals set at the beginning of the year that do not reflect current priorities.  In addition, clear goals aligned with corporate goals are identified by many employee engagement experts as a driver of employee engagement, however, employees report that goal setting hurts their levels of engagement because they believe their goals to be unattainable, they have too many goals, or their goals are too challenging.  In other instances, employees are disengaged by their goals because they are simply uncommitted to what is being asked of them.

So does traditional goal setting drive performance excellence and deliver desired business results?  What can we do differently?  I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
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Part 3: Performance Management

Bookmark JoinDrPam as a favorite and come back to read the next installment which explores the potential negative impact of conventional performance management….

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