Thoughts and Learnt Lessons from the Pareto Principle (aka the 80/20 Rule)

Bobbie Shrivastav

Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer at Benekiva



Mr. Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist and sociologist, was the creator of the famous Pareto principle or famously known as the "80/20" rule. His observations were simple and powerful - 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. He observed peapods in his garden, where he noticed that 20% of the peapods contained 80% of peas. The same held true for land. 80% of land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. Here are a few areas to think about.

Actions taken

"How often do we wait for the last 20% of the product to be completed? Could we have released it with 80% of the functionality? How much did the 20% cost us vs. the value?"

I was part of an initiative few years ago, where I led development efforts of a technology product. We built 80% of our product in less than 6 months. The latter 20% took more than 1.5 years! The perfectionist attitude of the organization delayed a product launch to make it "perfect" by almost 2 years. I often think, what would have happened if the product was released at the 80% mark? How would have our clients' feedback shaped our product in that 1.5 years?

"How are you maximizing your time? Is 80% of it going into value added activities that will bring you closer to your vision? Are you taking at least 20% to enjoy life?"

I've learned lots of lessons and the biggest one is how I choose to spend my time. An important lesson that I learned recently is that no one can manage time. You only have 24 hours in a day. How you manage yourself in relation to time is important. How often have you stated that you "ran out of time"? How many times have you been distracted by a message, social media, television, etc.?

Lessons learned

  • In my career and product launches, I've learned to avoid falling into the perfection trap and really strive for 80/20. If Docsmore would have waited to be perfect, we would have still been in development mode. The great thing is we are in development mode and we are developing functionality based on our client feedback, not what we think is cool.
  • Which leads me to my second item. Your clients shape your product. No matter how much critical feedback you get from internal stakeholders, friends, or family, if they are not a user of your product/service, your client's feedback trumps theirs.
  • Finally, use the 80/20 rule during the race against the clock. Take time for yourself - workout, meditate, read, etc. Your work is not going away nor will you create a full-blown marketing strategy in one hour.

Source: LinkedIn

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Bobbie Shrivastav

Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer at Benekiva

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