(The 80/20 Rule is an annoying business phrase and is just one of the 212 Most Annoying Business Phrases Managers Effuse, Confuse, and Overuse detailed in the hilarious must-have guide for every workplace: The 30,000-Pound Gorilla in the Room. Available right now on Amazon.)
The 80/20 Rule is an informal restating of something called the Pareto Principle, which means (in many instances) about 80% of the outcomes are derived from roughly 20% of the sources. An example of this rule, when used correctly, might be when a company enjoys 80% of its revenue from just 20% of the products it offers.
Other correct uses apply to affluence (roughly 80% of the wealth in the world is likely controlled by about 20% of the population) and to health care (where 80% of the medical resources might be used by just 20% of the patients).
Of course, if always used correctly, the 80/20 Rule would never deserve a page in this book. Thank goodness we have managers out there applying the 80/20 Rule to anything and everything – and often just thrown out there as an answer by itself.
“Oh, well, you know… that’s the old 80/20 Rule, right?”
The key to remember when we’re talking about statistical information (like anything one might assume fits the 80/20 Rule) is that 92% of people believe 76% of statistics are made up on the spot. Of course, anyone who truly understands the 80/20 Rule knows 80% of the fake statistics are made up by just 20% of the people.
Replacement phrases: There is no replacement phrase; as the 80/20 Rule is fine when used correctly. Unfortunately, it seems 80% of the correct uses come from just 20% of the people who utter it.
See also: Incremental Improvement
The 30,000-Pound Gorilla in the Room is available on Amazon.