Monday, September 13, 2010

Pareto's 80/20 Principle in Development Projects

In the early 1900s an Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto, observed that in most countries 20% of the people owned 80% of the wealth. It was soon described as the Pareto's Principle. In the 1930s and 1940s, Dr. Juran who studied Quality Management began noticing a similar pattern in organizations, in that 20% of something in an organization accounted for 80% of the results. Dr. Juran began referring to the "vital few and the trivial many."

Other examples of the 80:20 ratio are:
  • 80% of all deaths on account of sickness happen from 20% percent of diseases.
  • 80% of the nutrition you acquire comes from 20% of the foodstuff you eat.
  • 80% and above marks are scored by only 20% of children in examinations.
  • 80% of the work in an office is done by 20% of the staff.
  • 80% market share of a product is owned by 20% of business houses.
  • 80% of what an presenter presents is understood only by 20% of the audience.
  • 80% of the people browsing the Internet go to 20% of the web-sites.
  • 80% of the most listened music will be from 20% of the albums produced.
What are some examples from projects that might follow Pareto's Principle? For example:
  • 80% of project results come from 20% of the project activities.
  • 80% of project results come from the efforts of 20% of the project staff.
  • 80% of project results come from 20% of project funds.
  • 80% of project of beneficiaries benefit from 20% of the project activities.
Can you think of other aspects of projects that do or may follow Pareto's Principle?

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