Examples of the 80-20 Rule (Pareto Principle) in Practice (2024)

The 80-20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, states that 80% of all outcomes result from 20% of all causes. In business, this means seeking the most productive inputs that will generate the highest outcomes/returns. There are a number of practical applications for the 80-20 rule in diverse areas such as the distribution of wealth in economics, quality production control, business sales, and growth.

Key Takeaways

  • The 80-20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, states that 80% of all outcomes (output) derive from 20% of all causes (inputs).
  • The Pareto Principle was created by economist Vilfredo Pareto in Italy in 1906.
  • The rule has far-reaching applications, including in quality production, the distribution of wealth, business, investing, and project management.
  • In business, the principle asserts that 80% of a company's revenues should come from 20% of its customers.

Origins of the Pareto Principle

The 80-20 rule was invented by Vilfredo Pareto in Italy in 1906. According to legend,Pareto, an economist, noticed20% of the pea pods in his garden provided80% of the peas. He then determined20% of the population in Italy owned 80% of the land. The use of the80-20 rulehas since expanded beyond the alleged humble beginnings in Pareto’s garden.

Dr. Joseph Juran applied the 80-20 rule to quality control in the 1940s. He found that 80% of problems with products were caused by 20% of the production defects. By focusing on and reducing that20% of production defects, overall quality could be increased. Juran became an important figure in Japan after lecturing there extensively on quality control issues. His main phrase was, "thevital few andthe trivial many."

Managers at companies should identify the factors that are the most important to the company's success and give those factors the most attention.

The 80-20 Rule in Business and Investments

The 80-20 rule has found applications in business management. For business sales, 20% of a company’s repeat customers should be responsible for 80% of the sales. Also, 20% of the employees are responsible for 80% of the results.

For project management, the first 20% of the effort put in on a project should yield 80% of the project’s results. Thus, the 80-20 rule can help managers and business owners focus 80% of their time on the 20% of the business yieldingthe greatest results.

In investing, the80-20 rulegenerally holds that 20% of the holdings in a portfolio are responsible for 80% of the portfolio’s growth. On the flip side, 20% of a portfolio’s holdings could be responsible for 80% of itslosses.

Another method is to attempt to focus a portfolio on the 20% of stocks in the broader market that comprises 80% of the market’s returns; however, due to the uncertainty of future returns, both of these methods are difficult to put into practice. Stocks are inherentlyrisky assetsdue to the unpredictability of future performance.

One method for using the80-20rule in portfolio construction is to place 80% of the portfolio assets in a lessvolatileinvestment, such as Treasury bonds or index funds while placing the other 20% in growth stocks. The 80% in the lower-risk investment will collect a reasonable return, while the 20% in the higher-risk assets will hopefully achieve greater growth.

What Is an Example of the 80-20 Rule?

An example of the 80-20 rule is 80% of a company's revenues coming from 20% of its customers or 20% of a portfolio's most risky assets generating 80% of its returns.

How Do You Set Goals With the 80-20 Rule?

To set goals with the 80-20 rule, you primarily establish that 20% of your efforts/tasks will result in 80% of your results. For example, at work, 20% of the effort you put into your job will result in 80% of your tasks being completed/successful.

What Is the 80-20 Rule for CEOs?

CEOs can use the 80-20 rule by determining the 20% of tasks that need to be prioritized and done themself while delegating 80% of the tasks to their subordinates. This allows a CEO to effectively manage their responsibilities and be productive.

The Bottom Line

The 80-20 rule (Pareto Principle) has many applications that allow companies and investors to make the most efficient decisions. For example, a company would look to 20% of its customers generating 80% of its revenues. The same thought process can be applied to risk and reward in an investment portfolio. Overall, the application of the 80-20 rule helps to maximize efficiency.

Examples of the 80-20 Rule (Pareto Principle) in Practice (2024)

FAQs

Examples of the 80-20 Rule (Pareto Principle) in Practice? ›

For business sales, 20% of a company's repeat customers should be responsible for 80% of the sales. Also, 20% of the employees are responsible for 80% of the results. For project management, the first 20% of the effort put in on a project should yield 80% of the project's results.

What is a practical example of the 80-20 rule? ›

The 80/20 rule is not a formal mathematical equation, but more a generalized phenomenon that can be observed in economics, business, time management, and even sports. General examples of the Pareto principle: 20% of a plant contains 80% of the fruit. 80% of a company's profits come from 20% of customers.

What is an example of 80 20 in real life? ›

80% of crimes are committed by 20% of criminals. 80% of sales are from 20% of clients. 80% of project value is achieved with the first 20% of effort. 80% of your knowledge is used 20% of the time.

What is an example of the 80-20 rule in the workplace? ›

This can be applied in many different aspects of your life including your work. For example, if 20% of your tasks are bringing 80% of your project results, you can consider making those specific tasks your priority. You can also keep in mind the 80% you can discard, rethink, or transfer to make your life easier.

Which of the following is the best example of the Pareto Principle? ›

Example of the Pareto Principle

If an advisory practice has 100 clients, according to the Pareto Principle, 80% of the financial advisor's revenue should come from the top 20 clients. These 20 clients have the highest amount of assets and the highest fees charged.

What is the most productive way to apply the 80-20 rule? ›

Prioritize the first 20% of your workday regarding the tasks you complete and know when it's time to pivot and make changes when working on the remaining 80% to ensure you don't waste too much productive time and energy.

What is an example of 80-20 rule in nature? ›

Pareto also observed that 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas. His ratio seems to pop up everywhere.

What is the 80-20 rule examples dating? ›

For instance, you can expect to get 80% of your needs met by your partner in your relationship, but the other 20% is up to you. In another context, you can expect satisfaction from your relationship 80% of the time, while the other 20%, not so much.

What is the 80-20 rule activities? ›

When applied to work, it means that approximately 20 percent of your efforts produce 80 percent of the results. Learning to recognize and then focus on that 20 percent is the key to making the most effective use of your time.

What is an example of the 80-20 rule in construction? ›

Following are few example of Pareto principle in construction projects: 80% of the works problem are from 20% of the employees. 80% of long meeting outputs could be obtained in 20% of the time. 20% of your time creates 80% of your results.

What is an example of the 80-20 rule in sales? ›

Here are some examples you may have already experienced in your business: 80% of your sales volume is generated by 20% of your customers. 80% of your revenues are generated by 20% of your products. 80% of your complaints come from 20% of your customers.

What is an example of 80-20 rule time management? ›

For example, a business may find that 80% of its sales come from 20% of its products and could focus on improving those products to boost sales further. Similarly, an individual may find that 80% of their productivity comes from 20% of their work tasks and could prioritize them to achieve better results.

How do you use 80-20 rule in a sentence? ›

Other examples you may have encountered: 80% of our revenues are generated by 20% of our customers. 80% of our complaints come from 20% of our customers. 80% of our quality issues occur with 20% of our products.

What are some practical applications of the Pareto Principle? ›

Practical Applications

The Pareto principle can be seen across many sectors of business and within consumerism. Below are a few examples of where it might be found: 80% of the work in a group project is done by 20% of the group. 80% of revenues come from 20% of the products.

What is a real world example of Pareto distribution? ›

20% of your co-workers create 80% of the problems in the office. 20% of the fundraisers on staff are responsible for 80% of the organization's revenue. And, 20% of the carpet in your office gets used 80% of the time!

What is the 80/20 rule diet example? ›

If you're aiming for 80 percent of your diet to come from fresh and unprocessed whole foods, why not treat yourself with up to 20 percent of your favorite treats? For someone targeting 1500 calories a day that means you'd use about 1200 calories for healthy, nutritious meals and 300 calories for your treat.

What is the 80-20 rule for dummies? ›

The 80/20 principle means that in anything we spend our time on – as little as 20% is truly crucial. The remaining 80% of our time is spent on insignificant or pettish matters.

What is an example of the 80-20 rule in marketing? ›

Here are some examples you may have already experienced in your business: 80% of your sales volume is generated by 20% of your customers. 80% of your revenues are generated by 20% of your products. 80% of your complaints come from 20% of your customers.

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