“80% of the results come from 20% of the effort. Focus on the right 20%.” Phil
Right this minute, my desk is a mess. Multiple projects for clients and engagements in the non-profit sector press for attention. How do I decide what to pick up and what to put down? Building the people around me seems the best and most prudent decision to engage effectiveness. Those built today become power for tomorrow.
The decision mechanism of important versus urgent seems inadequate. Important plus urgent must be priority one. Important but not urgent brings best results and is priority two. Not important but urgent earns a three. Finally, not important and not urgent should go to trash bin or some holding pattern for when it changes to something that needs attention.
Executives and managers can make multiple critical decisions every hour. Sometimes it seems there are multiple decisions each minute. There is a way to sort. There is a way to prioritize and get optimum results.
Rebellion to tyranny is obedience to God. Thomas Jefferson
Maybe this quote is a little out of place for the discussion. Or is it? Is the tyranny of urgent matters as tyrannical as a king in a country across the ocean? Maybe it is closer to home and more impactful on bad and disorderly living than a governmental system could be. Somehow, I don’t think Jefferson was pointing us to Godliness as much as making a strong position for self governance. Self governance reduces tyranny of the urgent
80/20 : 80% of results come from 20% of the people. 80% of sales come from 20% of the customers. 80% of our smiles come from 20% of our thoughts. One and one we can make comparisons of 80% from 20% whether they are true or not. This is not a rule but a guideline. In the work of developing people it is most applicable when you focus on the right 20%.
The Right 20% Takes Right Approach
Stimulate Creative Thought: This is a right 20% in developing others. Don’t just allow creative thought, stimulate creative thought. Management by the book and standard operational procedure can produce quality and it can also produce stiff brained obeisance. Robot staff will not produce the right 80%.
Challenge Progress Reports: How often do you open a progress report and wonder if anything of any real value was accomplished? Do you ask questions? Do you get clarification? Are you managing for effective, right results or just results? Our desire to please others and do the expected job can cause us to use reports as promotional material instead of decision making material. Unchallenged over time, everyone can get caught in meaningless redundancy and semantic fluff.
Affirm Specifically: “Good job, Jack.” That is a lame statement. “Jack, I appreciate your taking care of the details on this report while providing a succinct executive summary from which I can make a decision.” Okay, Jack can curve his future results to match that statement and bring me the 80% effectiveness I need from 20% of his efforts.
Correct in Private: It is tough to resist correction at the time of fault. When coaching a developing team, it was painful to watch failure after failure pile up at an event. Stupid is as stupid does. Finally, I interjected some correction. The result was an angered staffer, who was doing the best he had been coached in the past. Now, I had to get him aside, heal the pain, and get him reengaged in the success of the moment. Better would have been to take mental notes and review in a post mortem along with all of the successes.
Summary: You can get 80% of results from your staff with 20% of your effort. They can get 80% of their results from 20% of the effort. All the fancy grids and principles are useless if you are not concentrating on the right 80% and the right 20%. Those come from developing your team to target in manners that build the person not just the results. In the end, it is the person that will make the results appear within any system or process or procedure.