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Did you know that it is vital for you to know your Vital Few?

Vilfredo Pareto was an Italian economist who amongst many things studied the land holding pattern in England. He discovered, not very surprisingly for those days, that 80 % of the land was owned by 20 % of the people.  That was after all the era when the landed aristocracy owned huge tracts of land.  His mathematical formula set out in 1906 came to be called the Pareto Principle.

Based on this observation, came what became to be known as Pareto’s Principle or the 80:20 Rule. This is valid even to this day.

Haven’t you noticed the following?

•    In most companies 80 % of the profits come from 20 % of products/services
•    80 % of the best ideas come from 20 % of employees in your team
•    80 % of road accidents are caused by 20 % of drivers

The list goes on.

The American Qulity expert, Dr. Joseph Juran gave the Pareto Principle a new interpretation saying that it was made up of the Vital few and the Tirvial Many.

What’s important is that in a job context as much as 80 % of your results come from 20 % of the tasks that you do. This means that 20 % of your activities- called the Vital Few- actually account for 80 % of your results. The remaining 80 % of activities- called the Trivial Many- actually account for only 20 % of your results.

What makes managers effective is their understanding of what constitutes the Vital Few in their jobs. While it is the lot of every manager to bear with the 80 % Trivial Many as well, smart managers know they cannot compromise in any way when it comes to the Vital Few.

Identifying the Vital Few in your job helps you prioritize tasks and allot required time and effort (which are limited at the end of the day) to their accomplishment. Don’t let the Trivial Many take over your work and keep you bogged down in trivia while more important activities are allowed to slip out of your radar.

As some one said, there’s no point in polishing the silver, when the house is burning down.

So go ahead, if you haven’t got it on your fingertips already, identify the Vital Few in your job- this can make a difference between success and failure.

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