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The law of focus

The law of focus is also known as Pareto's Principle or the 80/20 rule. This law came from Dr. Juran's observation of the "vital few and trivial many." The principle was accidentally given the name Pareto's Principle because of a lack of precision on Dr. Juran's part. When he was reducing his observation to writing, it appeared that he was applying Pareto's observations about economics to a broader body of work. Moreover, after that point the name just stuck.

How the 80/20 rule works is that in anything, land ownership or manufacturing, a few (20 percent) are vital to the process and many (80 percent) are trivial to the process. In manufacturing, what this usually means is that 20 percent of the defects are causing 80 percent of the problems or that the main causes of delay in manufacturing results from just 20% of the overall processes. What this means for your manufacturing plant is that you can look at the small percentage of activities that are causing you the delays. By being able to examine the activities that are causing the delays, you can fix your problems faster. The tricky part can be identifying the 20% of the processes that are causing the delays. In order to identify these processes you will need to take the time to evaluate all of the processes in your manufacturing plant. When evaluating them you will want to identify which ones are the most useful and which ones need to be refocused.

The law of focus is valuable to members of management in all forms of business because it reminds management that the best thing that they can do is to stay focuses on the 20 percent that matters. This can be the 20 percent of your workforce that is doing most of the work or the 20 percent of the processes that are causing the delays that you need to fix. The reason that you as a member of management want to focus on that 20 percent is that the 20 percent is what is going to produce about 80 percent of your results. Since that, 20 percent is going to be responsible for a majority of your results it is vital that you identify what that 20 percent is, so you can focus on it. This will also enable you to identify the critical 20 percent that you should be focusing on when things are going to have to be left undone. You can choose to leave certain things undone if a crisis happens to strike, as long as what is going to be left undone is not a part of the critical 20 percent.

The one thing that you want to avoid doing as a member of management is using the 80/20 rule to focus on a new management style. A new style that is going around is often referred to as Superstar Management. With this style of management what you do is simply focus on the 20 percent of your workforce that is producing 80 percent of your results, which are nicely coined your superstars. This should be avoided because it is a flawed outlook on the 80/20 rule. The reason that it is flawed is because it is overlooking the fact that 80 percent of your time should be spent doing what is important for your work, or what would give you the biggest return. Therefore, what you really want to do is take the time to help the other 80 percent of your workforce to become better at their jobs. This will help you get better results because you will have more people performing better, which will improve your quality.

With the law of focus, what you need to remember is that you need to stay focused on investing 80 percent of your time and energy into the 20 percent of your work that is important.

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