80/20 Principles: The Secret of Achieving More With Less by Richard Koch is a compendium of practical rules and fundamental keys to productivity, proactivity, eccentricity as well as corporate and personal development. It teaches that a minority of causes, inputs or effort usually leads to a majority of the results, outputs or rewards.

The book was first published in 1997 and reprinted in 1998 by Nicholas Brealey Publishing Limited. It has two hundred and ninety-nine pages (299) which consist of four parts with 16 chapters.

Key ideas and learning points

The 80/20 Principle was discovered at the end of the 19th Century by Vilfredo Pareto when he observed systematic and predictable imbalance in the distribution of wealth. In 1951, Juran made an addendum to the 80/20 principle and established the rule of the “Vital Few” which means that attention should be given to the vital few rather than the trivial many in all aspects of our lives.

The 80/20 Principle can help to accomplish more with less effort, make one happier and improve performance. It says that if 80% of results come from 20% of efforts, it is logical that the vast majority of our efforts have few effects.

Taken literally, this means that, for example, 80% of what you achieve in your job comes from 20% of the time spent. Between 1960 and 1990, these concepts were adopted in Japan and they led to significant progress.

The principle applies to our life, our social world and the place where we work. Understanding the 80/20 Principle gives us great insight into what is really happening in the world around us.


How to think 80/20

The 80/20 analysis is used to change the relationship that it describes or to make better use of it. It can be used to focus attention on the main causes of the relationship, on the 20% input that leads to 80% output.

80/20 thinking highlights the non-quantitative application of the principle to daily life. With practice, it enables us to spot the few really important things that are happening. To engage in 80/20 thinking, we must constantly ask ourselves: what is the 20 percent that is leading to 80 percent?

We must never assume that we automatically know what the answer is, but take some time to think creatively about it. What are the vital few inputs or causes as opposed to the trivial many? Where is the haunting melody being drowned by the background noise?


The principle can be applied as follows;

  1. Celebrate exceptional productivity, rather than praise average efforts.
  2. Look for the short cut, rather than run the full course.
  3. Exercise control over your life with the least possible effort.
  4. Be selective, not exhaustive.
  5. Strive for excellence in a few things, rather than good performance in many.
  6. Delegate or outsource as much as possible in your daily life.
  7. Choose your careers and employers with extraordinary care, and if possible employ others rather than being employed yourself.
  8. Only do the thing you are best at doing and enjoy most. In every important sphere, work out where 20 percent of effort can lead to 80 percent of returns.
  9. Calm down, work less and target a limited number of very valuable goals where the 80/20 Principle will work for you, rather than pursuing every available opportunity.
  10. Make the most of those few ‘lucky streaks’ in your life where you are at your creative peak and the stars line up to guarantee success.


On strategy, 80/20 principles explain how businesses and corporate organisations can be strategic and maximize profit. It gave insight into why strategy can be wrong if a proper investigation was not done to find out which 20% of the business product or activity generates 80% income.

It further reveals that a simple business will always be better than a complex business. The way to create something great is to create something simple. Anyone who is serious about delivering better value to customers can easily do so by reducing complexity.


10 golden rules for career success

  • Specialise in a very small niche; develop a core skill.
  • Choose a niche that you enjoy, where you can excel and stand a chance of becoming an acknowledged leader.
  • Realise that knowledge is power.
  • Identify your market and your core customers and serve them best.
  • Identify where 20 percent of effort gives 80 percent of returns.
  • Learn from the best.
  • Become self-employed early in your career.
  • Employ as many net value creators as possible.
  • Use outside contractors for everything but your core skill.
  • Exploit capital leverage


Pareto principle


Koch’s 10 commandments of investment

  • Make your investment philosophy reflect your personality.
  • Be proactive and unbalanced.
  • Invest mainly in the stock market.
  • Invest for the long term.
  • Invest most when the market is low.
  • If you can’t beat the market, track it.
  • Build your investments in your expertise.
  • Consider the merits of emerging markets.
  • Cull your loss-makers.
  • Run your gains.


Making the mind connection

The book generally covers every area of human life such as business, work, success, happiness, relationship, money, etc. The book made me feel I have found the actual principles to maximising my efforts in order to produce desirable results.

It opened my eyes to areas where I need to apply the 80/20 principles so that I can be better, areas such as time management, career and relationship.


I like this book because of its overriding message that our daily lives can be greatly improved by using the 80/20 Principle. Each individual can be more effective and happier. Each profit-seeking corporation can become very much more profitable.

Every government can ensure that its citizens benefit much more from its existence. For everyone and every institution, it is possible to obtain much more that is of value with much less input of effort, expense or investment.

The writing style is profound. It employs the use of imaginative words and a direct conversational approach; it feels like you are communicating directly with the author. I recommend this book to individuals and business owners.


Action points

I have decided to take the insights further by consciously applying and pasting on my wall some of the principles in this book that covers career success, relationship, time revolution and investment.

Instead of concentrating efforts on trivial many, I will rather focus on vital few in all of my endeavours. I hope you’ll do the same.

John Ayeni is a graduate of Mass Communication. A digital skills enthusiast and advocate, he is a digital marketing professional, web developer and small business consultant. He currently interns with The Plenipotent company. John loves writing, thinking and researching.