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Wow! This One Principle Can Explode A Team to Greatness…

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A number of years ago I learned an important principle that changed how I did a lot of things, particularly how I focused.

It’s a principle that I have also passed on to my children and many others. It’s called the Pareto principle—also known as the 80/20 rule.

Vilfredo Pareto was an Italian economist who noticed that 80% of Italy’s land was owned by 20% of population. As he surveyed other countries he also noticed a similar distribution.

What does this principle have to do with teams?

Since Pareto discovered the 80/20 rule, many have also found similar ratios in most areas where there is a cause and effect.

One simple example is something that I have shared with my children, who have all been involved in athletics. I would tell them that 20% of their basketball team (the cause) will give 80% of the effort in practice (the effect). Which means that 80% of your team will only give 20% of the total effort in practice. I would always follow that up with the question, “What percentage do you want to be in?”

It’s true! 20% of teammates will score 80% of the points on any given athletic team. 20% of teammates in athletics will do 80% of the celebrating and so on and so forth…

While it may not always be a perfect 80/20—it could be a 70/30 or 84/16 for example—every cause and effect will fall fairly close to this 80/20 ratio.

Again you ask, “What does this have to do with teams Mike?” Maybe you already caught on with my examples around basketball. But if not, it’s simple…

20% of your teammates or team are getting 80% of the results. If you are in sales, 20% of your sales team or teammates are most likely getting 80% of the sales. 20% of your team or teammates are doing 80% of the work and on and on…

Again, it’s not a perfect ratio, but it is pretty close.

What does this mean for a team? Well, here is the magic… Find a way to get another 20% on your team to contribute 80% and you just multiplied your team’s greatness.

Find out what the 20% are doing right and either develop your team to do the same thing or hire people that can. That’s where the real power and magic is. 

I would love to hear your thoughts. Please comment below and feel free to share by using one of the Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter buttons below.

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  • Jessica Simmons June 5, 2018, 8:13 am

    This is a great article! Pareto principle applied to real life scenarios. Team building exercises like games and events can build greater cohesion among team members. Escape games for example provide opportunities to have fun and getting to know about your teammates at the same time. If the productive 20% of the team can forge relationships with another 20%, then team strength can be increased.

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