Management consultant Joseph M. Juran is credited with suggesting the Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, and naming it after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. The idea is that roughly 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes.
Pareto showed that approximately 80 percent of the land in Italy was owned by 20 percent of the population; Pareto developed the principle further by observing that about 20 percent of the peapods in his garden contained 80 percent of the peas. The idea has been applied to a number of situations. For example, a common guide in business is that ”80 percent of your sales come from 20 percent of your clients.”
In churches and other volunteer organizations, we might observe that 20 percent of the members do 80 percent of the work. If this true, what are the implications for leaders?
For one thing, the principle would mean investing your time and energy in the 20 percent. You might argue, “Well, if I spent more time with the 80 percent, perhaps they would do more.” Possible but not likely. Find those who are teachable, dependable, and enthusiastic and spend time with them. Jesus had hundreds of followers, but he invested himself in 12 (and one of those fell by the wayside).
Another observation is that if you use 20 percent of your time effectively, you can accomplish more than you do with the other 80 percent. As some asked, “How do you work smarter rather than harder?” The trick is in finding out where investing your time has the most leverage. Is it in sermon preparation, pastoral care, or administration? Is it in budget management, people development, or marketing? I have a feeling that this will different for each of us based on our skill set. For example, I have found that writing a blog gets more response from potential coaching clients than making several dozen phone calls.
How does the Pareto principle impact you, your church, or your organization? I would welcome your feedback.