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    Thinking in an 80/20 Way: Part Two

    John A. Wojtecki
    Doctor John A. Wojtecki has 45 years of experience in Human Resources, Safety, and Training serving the toy, food, plastics, steel, and office furniture industries. John operates his own consulting business and is a Certified Facilitator in Real Colors. He is a volunteer with the Quad Cities Mediation Service. He posts monthly on his LinkedIn account.

    Muscatine Living

    In early November, we were reviewing “The 80/20 Manager” by Richard Koch. Do keep in mind that, “the 80/20 principle stems from the writings of Vilfredo Pareto, who asserted that a small number of events have a proportionately large effect.”

    Koch introduces several 80/20 type concepts that I found fascinating. Interesting perspectives on the 80/20 concept include the following:

    • Just 1.5% of the world’s languages are spoken by 90% of the people.
    • A study of 300 movies released over 18 months found that four commanded 80% of the receipts.
    • In common speech, less than 1% of words are used 80% of the time (I need to use this when I am studying my Spanish and Ukrainian on Duolingo).
    • There are 30,000 edible plants. 11 account for 93% of the consumption. (Can you name them? Answers at the end of the article – and please don’t move ahead to the end of the article for the answer.)

    Koch then comes up with 10 ways to be an 80/20 manager. The list of 10 includes: investigating, super-connecting, mentoring, leveraging, liberating, seeking meaning, becoming time-rich, simplifying, becoming lazy, and acting strategically. For our business perspective, we will focus on two of the 10.

    The first way to be an 80/20 manager is to be an investigating manager. Koch suggests, and has us asking ourselves, 1. “What single powerful idea will turbo-charge our business and/or my career?” and 2. “Who is achieving great results and how?”

    The first question focuses on a single powerful idea. This keeps the growth and advancement down to a simple action.

    The second question asks us to benchmark others. Benchmarking others can give us ideas on what to change and continuous improvement. I do like the benchmarking concept as I remember benchmarking safety departments in trying to reduce accidents and injuries. Benchmarking can present most interesting actions for the business owner.

    Another Koch suggestion is acting strategically. Koch suggests the owner (either of the business or of your career) is to select one, and only one priority each day, and address it. The simplification is impressive, no complications.

    Strategic actions continue with the question, what can I do faster, better, and more elegantly than others? I love the mention of elegant. Doing something elegantly just has a nice ring to it.

    These questions remind me of a book by Marcus Buckingham titled “Now Discover Your Strengths.” I used that book extensively in my leadership classes. Buckingham’s theory in the book was to focus your actions on what you do well. Pay less attention to your weak points. One can accomplish so much more by devoting oneself to what one does well. Sound recommendations from both Buckingham and Koch.


    Earlier in the article, I mentioned that there are 30,000 edible plants. 11 account for 93% of consumption. Take a minute and write down what you think the 11 are. (Nice pause…) They are as follows: Potatoes, wheat, corn, rice, beans, barley, cassava, sorghum, millet, rye, and oats (p.253). Yum!

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