Paretto principle

The Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, is a theory maintaining that 80 percent of the output from a given situation or system is determined by 20 percent of the input.

Take a look on this picture, looks fun isn’t it?

The Pareto Principle is very simple, yet very important. It is named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto who  found that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.

There are many conclusions from this simple principle. In my Industry (IT) we know how hard can be “the last percent of the task” sometime the last percent of features costs us ninety percent of spent time. Why? Because it is probably the hardest thing to implement, and it can depend (and even change) on huge parts of previous work.  Just now I am working on the project in which I finished all the task during one week, and still working on the last, final, part  for last three weeks. It’s almost a rule of thumb.

That disproportion is something that easy to notice but hard to include to the planning.

Modern theories of the planning teach us “fail fast”, it’s mean that we have to deliver our features as fast as we can, and “verify” them on our clients/users/testers. In case if we did something incorrectly it is much better to know about that as fast as possible and correct plans.

But it seems  not to be related to Pareto ? Only for a first sight. If we go deeper to we can see the problem of choosing those “first” parts to implement. Let’s say we develop some GUI (graphical user interface) that demands us a lot of work with rich UI. What should we implement first?
– The most complex case that covers a few user requests?
– The simplest one that covers as much use cases as possible?

Not a simple question but statistics teach us that implement pareto’s tasks is more successful strategy in general.

 

Where else we can apply this rule? Almost to anything.

Let’s consider an example of language learning.
Such a poor guy as me might have a lot of problem with all the parts of learning : speaking, pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar etc, etc. How to chose one to focus on?

According to law above one should choose the worst part. People have troubles with understanding you even when you speak simple worlds like “Car, encourage, leave”? What will enchanting of your vocabulary give to you then? If you can’t pronounce simple words correctly how knowing hundred synonyms for “gloaming” would help? Or vice versa if people already understand the mayor part your pronunciation what the reason to improve it more if you have grammar problem and can’t use narrative times at all?

The only trick is : be “agile”. Re-evaluate your skills often, don’t hesitate to change your focus on currently-the-worst-part, and I believe you will develop overall skills faster.

Have you known about Parete principle before?

Do you agree or disagree with my conclusion about language learning? Maybe you have good counterexamples? I’d like to see them then!

 

10 comments

  1. 1/ ( the last percent of features costs)
    It should be( feature costs) or ( features cost).

    2/ ( if you go deeper to we can see the problem)

    There’s something wrong in this sentence, yet I’m not sure about my correction.

    3/ ( that implement Pareto’s tasks is)

    You should write either ( tasks are OR task is)

    4/ ( might have a lot of problem)

    A lot of problems.

    5/ (how to chose one ..)

    How to choose one.

    6/ ( even when you speak simple worlds)

    Simple words.

    7/ ( what will enchanting of your vocabulary give to you then)

    Something wrong here in this sentence.

    8/ if people already understood the mayor part your pronunciation.

    There’s something wrong here, but let me try to correct it. Maybe you meant ” if people already understood the major part of your pronunciation.

    9/ (have you known about)

    Umm, I think we should say” have you heard about…”

    That was everything that I noticed.

    I liked your article. Keep up the good work.

  2. Teacher Lee’s Grammar Corrections

    The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, is a theory that states that 80% of the output from a given situation or system is determined by 20% of the input.   Take a look on this picture; looks fun, doesn’t it?  The Pareto Principle is very simple, yet very important.  It is named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who found that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.

    There are many conclusions from this simple principle.  In my Industry (IT), we know how hard the last 1% of a task can be.  Sometime the last 1% of the features costs us 90% of spent time. Why?  Because it is probably the hardest part to implement, and it can depend (and even change) in large part on previous work. Just now I am working on a project in which I finished all the tasks during one week, but I have been working on the final part for the last three weeks.  It’s almost a rule of thumb.  This disproportionate amount of time at the end of a project is something that is easy to notice but hard to include in the planning.

    Modern theories of planning teach us to “fail fast”.  This means that we have to deliver our features as fast as we can and “verify” them on our clients/users/testers.  In case we did something incorrectly, it is much better to know about this as fast as possible and to correct our plans early in the project rather than later.

    But does this seem to be related to Pareto? Only at first sight.  If we go deeper, we can see that the problem is choosing those “first” parts to implement.  Let’s say we develop some GUI (graphical user interface) with rich UI that demands a lot of work from us.  What should we implement first — (a) the most complex case that covers a few user requests or (b) the simplest one that covers as much use cases as possible?  This is not a simple question but statistics teach us that implementing Pareto’s tasks is the more successful strategy in general.

    Where else we can apply this rule?  It can be applied to almost to anything.  Let’s consider an example of language learning.  Such a poor guy like me might have a lot of problems with all the parts of learning: speaking, pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, etc.  How to choose one to focus on?

    According to the law above, one should choose the worst part.  People have troubles with understanding you even when you speak simple worlds like “car, encourage, and leave”?  What good will enhancing your vocabulary do for you then?  If you can’t pronounce simple words correctly, how will knowing a hundred synonyms for “gleaming” help?  Or vice versa, if people already understand the major part of your pronunciation, what reason is there to improve it more when you may have serious grammar problems which prevent you from writing narrative text?

    The trick is to be flexible or adaptable.  Re-evaluate your skills often, don’t hesitate to change your focus on ever-changing, worst part is, and I believe you will develop your overall skills faster.

    Did you know about the Parete Principle before?  Do you agree or disagree with my conclusion about language learning?  Do you have any good counterexamples?  I’d like to see them then!

  3. Ivan,

    I may have misled you.  I have just read that “%” in informal and “percent” is formal, so if you were intending to write formally, then your “percent” was perfectly correct.

     

  4. Marwa,

    Sometime the last 1% (of the features) costs… => Sometime the last 1% costs

    Normally, I would tell you that “1%” is the subject of “costs”, so 1% costs is correct.

    However,… the website below says I’m wrong.  It says to use the noun closest to the verb to match agreement.  So grammar has changed since my childhood in this regard.  => of the features cost  (I disagree but…)

    https://ontariotraining.net/grammar-tip-verb-agreement-with-per-cent/

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