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80/20 Rule

This is a rule of thumb that says that 80% of the problems happen in 20% of the problem domain. In fact many things seem to naturally fall into these categories (which is probably something to do with Murphy's Law :).

It was originally identified by 19th century Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto, who noticed that around 80% of the wealth of the country was held by around 20% of the population (and that this was recursive: of the 20%, 80% of their wealth was held by 20% of this privileged society).

Joseph Juran called it the Pareto Principle and applied it to process improvement as a simple tool for focusing activity.

See also:

Joseph Juran, Pareto Principle, Pareto Chart

Toolbook chapter: Pareto Chart

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