Controversal opinion on the 80-20-Rule

Some people tag me being a perfectionist. Reflecting this, I can see three reasons why perfectionism may make pretty good sense - and those three reasons sometimes make me go further than stopping at 80 % (see e. g. earlier post "When to give up"):

  1. The 20 % you are leaving out, ignoring or simply not further investigating are often causing 80 % of the troubles you are experiencing later.
    The pareto principle (80-20-rule) is being applied to current status quo without doing risk analysis of the future and here is where this time management tool lacks. I have experienced so many times and spent so much time fighting with big problems caused by tiny flaws in algorithms, strategies or project plans that I learned to think twice before stopping a thing at 80 %.
  2. Nowadays many products or services are delivered at a quality level according to "good enough" standards.
    Businesses survive today by offering the same product at better price or offering a better quality. If you cannot deliver at best price you must offer better quality. This means to go further than "just being good enough".
  3. Not to give up often is the key for outstanding results.
    In my work following the 80-20 rules often is applied by following a different path. Mostly, first you try something in a way that would be the most effective, most performant and most elegant way. Then you face troubles, start workarounds and finally choose another way of implementing the desired working result - which of course - then lacks usability or performance. Looking around then you find yourself with results that others may deliver at same or lower price or work. My experience has been that in many cases I did not give up in getting the most elegant solution to work. That often payed off in the long-run only, but with the additional good feeling, that I did it right.
Of course, there are plenty of situations where the 80-20-rule is useful. It's just - the exception proves the rule.

Related posts: When to give up, Information Overflow, Principles over Rules.

1 comment:

Vivian said...

wonderful insights. thanks for sharing