Thanks for your explanation, it’s the best I’ve found after just discovering the so-called “Pareto Principle”.
However, I really think everyone’s making a big deal out of nothing.
So, some guy discovers that 80% of the wealth is held by 20% of the population. Okay, that’s nice. I guess before that no one knew that there are less rich people than poor people. Or maybe they just didn’t have a nice set of percentages to work with - in any case, the information interesting, but is not all that useful unless you’re trying to start a revolution or something.
Then, later on, someone notices that something else has an 80/20 relationship and we decide this 80/20 thing must be a law of nature?
Of course, in any system, there will be interesting relationships to be discovered. But now, every time that relationship is discovered to be 80/20 someone’s bound to pipe up with “Aha! It’s another example of the Pareto Principle!”.
Since this is the case and people have an easier time remembering things when they have a name to invoke, I would like to proclaim here and now that I have discovered that many things do NOT exhibit an 80/20 relationship and I call this the “Marty Principle”.
The way I see it is: we human beings like to put things in neat little boxes of sameness - and that’s all that’s happened here.
This principle isn’t something anyone should use for managing or deciding how many bugs should be fixed - what people should use is common sense. If someone is goofing off all the time, fire them. If the last 20% of bugs aren’t critical and don’t cause any data loss - maybe the product can ship with the known issues.
If you think you can get away with (or even want to try) only giving 20% of your employees raises or providing support to only 20% of your customers, you probably shouldn’t be in business. Or. what if you stopped work on a building when it’s 20% complete (since you figure 80% of the traffic will only be using the Starbucks on the first floor)?
You can’t use this principle to your advantage like this. You have to complete work and support your entire customer or employee base. If you then notice that there’s an 80/20 relationship in there somewhere, so what? Nice to know, but not very useful.
Sorry, didn’t mean to write a book. In any case, thanks again for your explanation. You should consider adding it to Wikipedia (or at least helping to rewrite what they currently have).