5 STEPS TO FIND WHAT MATTERS IN THE WORKPLACE

THE VITAL FEW AND THE TRIVIAL MANY

FIND WHAT MATTERS AT WORK WIITH A PARETO
A RENAISSANCE IDEA IN TODAYS WORKADAY WORLD

The problem isn't that people aren't  working hard enough, it's that they are working on the wrong things. How can you find the Vital Few hidden in the sometimes overwhelming, brassy and glittery many? Do a Pareto Chart.

HOW TO USE THE GRAPHIC

Follow the 5 steps.  First collect data, starting with whatever you have. Then move through each step in sequence until: TAH DAH, you will have an awakening, as in, see clearly what matters so you know where to begin.

HOW IT HELPS YOU AND WHY?

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Find the things that matter in the workplace, but ar hidden in the  NOISE.

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Focus your work on what matters and solve problems more quickly and forever.

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Time spent on trivial things costs, but spent on what matters rewards you

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Not wasting time on the trivial you have more time for what's important your LIFE.

WHAT IS IT?

IT IS A WAY TO DO A PARETO CHART, A very special do-hickey  of a bar chart where the results, counts,  are pre-sorted by how often they happen (frequency) and lined up from the most frequent to the least. Astoundingly simple, elegant and profound, it is used to clarify the relative importance of different factors in trying to decide which to work on first. Kind of makes sense to work on the ones that have the most impact, doesn't it?

WHERE DID IT COME FROM?

Vilfredo Pareto, an 19th Century Italian economist, noted that 80 percent of the wealth in Italy was held by 20 percent of the population. The famous statistician Juran later named his since proven observation that 80 percent of the variation in results in  a process is caused by roughly 20 percent of the variables; he labeled these variables the vital few, as opposed to the trivial many.

Dr. Juran then took the common bar chart, and turned it around to create a visualization of this statistical truth, an easy to see, easy to grasp graphic people can use to hone in on the 20% that seems to matter.​

HOW DO YOU USE IT?

PRIORITIZE

To find the most likely thing to work on that stands the chance of making the biggest effect. Called “economy.”

Analyze

To understand the things that matter in any process, good or bad, as part of planning for improvement.

Troubleshoot

Hone in on the things that are the root causes, and solve many problems while you solve one.

THE 5 STEPS TO KNOWING WHAT MATTERS IN THE WORKPLACE

collect

Collect the data, first from what you have, if you don't have enough then make up a checksheet, get everyone involved and count each occurrence, and log it. Be sure everyone understands it is for learning and they won't get into any trouble if they tell the truth! Fear is the mind killer.

collate pareto

Organize the data by what makes sense, not to you, but to the context of the workplace and what really takes place. The first rule of understanding data is to ensure that it is analyzed and presented so it REVEALS the real context hidden in the data, so be objective, and smart.

Now simply subtotal each, and get ready for some fun.

sort

Sort the totals from most to least, the easy part, especially if you use a spreadsheet.

draw pareto

Draw two perpendicular lines that meet at one end, like a graph... 'cause it is a graph. List each item across the bottom of a graph, the side to side axis.  Then to the left, the up and down axis,  list a reasonable scale based on the number of occurrences, dollar cost or volume, whatever you were measuring. Then build the bars accordingly. (Or put the sorted data in a table and make a bar chart from it. Forget the silly line you see rising up the top of many fancy charts. This is not important. Only as much as is needed to understand the context and no more is the rule!

THINK

THINK

Look at the chart and ask yourself what it is trying to tell you. Most of the time it is obvious, but sometimes the item that had the most occurrences was because of a single bad day, but the second or third may happen all the time and really be the thing that matters. Do a little research then plan a test to improve or solve, do it, and study the results to know if what you did really is improving things. If you get at a root cause, it will not only solve itself, but many other things, so stop wasting your life chasing the trivial: find what matters, then use PDSA. 

Pareto's make priorities clear, visually, and are often the first step in figuring out how to fix a problem.
  • To visualize frequency when there are enough datapoints to be confusing.
  • To help decide what to focus on.
  • To gauge the relative impacts on the system: time, money, people, etc.

So the next time you have a bunch of things to look at, you will know how to separate the Vital Few from the trivial many, and save time and resources.​

Examples

I AM DOING A COURSE ON THE PARETO IN BUSINESS DATA

I will show, in real time, the 5 steps to understanding what matters in the workplace and do Pareto analysis and charts that solved real world problems. When you have taken the whole course you will have mastered the 5 steps, and be ready to tackle thorny  business problems with insight, and power. Starting with the first time I had to use one. I was running a busy food service deli in a fancy supermarket some 30 years ago. With well over 800 items, trying to track the impact each had on profit to make better decisions was difficult. So I sorted them in order of how much each contributed in dollars profit a week and found that just over 100 items accounted for 80% of the profit dollars, AND the top 15 accounted for over half. That made managing the products that much easier. Watch the top 15, forget the rest. (Not completely but closer than you think.) Later we looked at sales the same way, pareto-style, trying to help us make better decisions on promotions, placement, buying, inventory etc.  I will show how it was used to solve a bunch of other problems.

IF YOU SIGN UP NOW YOU WILL WIN A COUPON FOR THE COURSE FOR ONLY $5, A 75% SAVINGS OVER THE NORMAL COST OF $20, BUT YOU MUST ACT IN THE NEXT 30 DAYS, BEFORE I FINISH THE COURSE!

ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS SCAN THE FOLLOWING QR CODE OR PRESS THE BUTTON​

QR CODE FOR PARETO CLASS

About the Author

Dan Strongin works with medium to small companies, helping them master the art and science of managing.