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 […]

What can you learn by simply switching lenses?

Last month I spoke at the CLO Exchange, held on Coronado Island off of San Diego in southern California. A beautiful venue for a thought-provoking gathering of Chief Learning Officers and other learning professionals from around the country.

One of my messages was the importance of expanding beyond our functional expertise as learning professionals, to integrate best practices from other disciplines. Every function or discipline approaches problem solving through a particular lens, and often the solution can be found by simply switching lenses.

The case study I shared was about integrating marketing principles as learning professionals. I find that many learning and development practitioners struggle with how to get buy-in or support from the business leaders with whom they work for the portfolio of learning and development programs and services they offer. What is the ROI? How can we measure the outcomes? In a resource constrained world, both financial and human, business leaders are appropriately challenging their learning organizations as to the value of a leadership development workshop, or the rotational program for high performing talent. The natural tendency is to respond by defending the proposed workshop, to justify the cost of the rotational program, and to attempt to quantify the value of work that is inherently qualitative and difficult to measure. As an aside, I advocate for measuring business outcomes not the learning program, and linking the business outcomes back to the learning. But this is a topic for another blog posting…

Rather than falling into a trap of defending and justifying each workshop and program, what can we learn by looking through the lens of the marketing professional. Marketing teaches us the power of a brand. A strong brand equals a strong reputation. If you […]

Strategy and Culture Should Meet For Breakfast

Welcome to JoinDrPam.  The following essay was recently published in a collection of essays curated by the Executive Learning Exchange in a book titled, “Learning Beyond the Classroom: Producing Competitive Business Reesults.”  The essay can be found in the Strategy section.
Please considering purchasing the book which is a collaborative project to create a relevant and actionable collection of poignant lessons learned, directly authored by learning and talent development thought leaders.  All proceeds from the sale of this book will benefit RightStart4Kids a 501c3 nonprofit organization that focuses on initiatives to help children globally start life out right from the start.
Strategy and Culture Should Meet For Breakfast
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” is attributed to Peter Drucker, an influential thinker on modern management theory and practice, but is it true?
If strategy is most broadly defined as “where we are going” and “how we are going to get there” it provides vision and a plan. Strategy does not speak to how to engage people to execute against that plan. That happens, in part, by helping them understand “how we do things around here,” or the culture. Great leaders, enabled by great learning organizations, create culture that will drive business performance.

So does culture eat strategy for breakfast? Strategy cannot be implemented without regard to culture and culture without strategy is equally doomed. It is rather a paradox where both culture and strategy are required for success. Success is found when the two are aligned.

At Hospira, the arrival of a new CEO created an opportunity to examine culture and to reinforce alignment between culture and strategy. The then-new CEO started using language to describe what he was looking for; behaviors he thought would drive success. The language he used […]

Are you managing change or managing VUCA?

 

When I speak at a conference, I always find that I learn as much as I hopefully contribute.  Such is the case when I presented earlier this month at the Talent Management Alliance conference in Atlanta. GA.  The theme was Assessing and Developing High Potential Talent, and I found many of the other presentations to be informative and thought-provoking.

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One concept that I walked away with that was new to me was VUCA, an acronym used to describe or reflect on the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of general conditions and situations. The common usage of the term VUCA began in the 1990s and derives from military vocabulary and has been subsequently used in emerging ideas in strategic leadership that apply in a wide range of organizations, per Wikipedia.

What I like about VUCA is that it takes the concept of managing change to a whole new level.  It deconstructs the concept of change into multiple components which underscore the extent to which managing change is really managing multiple interconnected variables. First, there is the speed of change (velocity). Then there is the fact that despite the best strategic planning efforts, there remains significant unpredictability in what actually will occur (uncertainty).  Furthermore, every situation in today’s organizations has confounding issues (complexity), and there are multiple interpretations for most situations so that truth becomes hard to define (ambiguity).

So while today’s leaders may be better at managing change than they used to be, are they prepared to manage VUCA?

What do you think?
Dr. Pamdocument.getElementById(“sbca”).style.visibility=”hidden”;document.getElementById(“sbca”).style.display=”none”;