Two principles have always intrigued me: The Pareto Principle and the Homeopathic System of treatment; how they come together in splendid confusion.
Pareto is brilliant in many ways. Anyone trying time management, which is always a challenge, trying multiple careers or trying to scale must be mindful of it. What does Pareto say? ‘The Pareto principle is a principle – named after economist Vilfredo Pareto – that specifies an unequal relationship between inputs and outputs. The principle states that 20% of the invested input is responsible for 80% of the outcome.
Homeopathy, considered a pseudoscience by Western Medicine, is still practiced in many parts of the world, including Europe and India. It does not make sense in the Allopathic paradigm, but I have seen it work, with my own eyes, on my own body. I have treated my children with it, sometimes seeing results within minutes. But this is not the place to discuss whether homeopathy works. It is the principle that is interesting. Hahnemann, the founder of Homeopathy, postulated that ‘Like cures like, dilution increases potency and disease is caused by miasms’. Of these three suppositions, the second one, ‘dilution increases potency’, catches my fancy.
Let us see how it connects with the Pareto Principle.
So let us try to look at Pareto mathematically. 20% of my work accomplishes 80% of my outcome – this in itself is quite an insight. That means I can start delegating the less productive part of my time to others and free 80%of my time. What this does is significantly free me up without affecting my total output (in some cases, increasing it), improving the quality of my life, and giving me an understanding of how to create my executive teams and how to empower them.
Now let us see what happens when I use the Homeopathic principle and take out more unessential parts of my time. If 20% of my time accomplishes 80 %of my work, what would happen if I concentrated on 20% of 20% of my most productive time? That would be 4% – and in that time, I would accomplish 80% of 80% of my work. That would be 64%. That means in 4% of my most productive time, I can complete 64% of my work. If I take my work day as consisting of ten hours a day, which would be 600 minutes, I can finish almost two-thirds of my work in 24 minutes.
The above calculation brings me to my favorite concept of the core. To me, core means what I am best at, what I have an aptitude for, and what I love doing – similar to the ancient Indian concept of Svadharma, which could perhaps be translated as my way of being manifesting itself. Thus, the more I focus on my most essential time, the more productive, efficient, and effective I am, and the more I am at my core.
Thus, the Pareto Principle and the concepts of Homeopathy, are not dealing with quantity per se but on quality, the atomic, the subtle, the microscopic. The more subtle I become, the vaster in scale I can be since I now have 96% of my time left to accomplish much more.
I call this the Pareto Singh Principle since the pun justifies itself.
Concentrating this further into greater intensity and depth, let us look at 20% of 4% of my most productive time, which is 0.8% or 4.8 minutes. During this time, I can accomplish 80% of 64% of my work, working out to 51.2% – meaning Homeopathically, I can do more than half my work in less than 5 minutes. Do we get the scale and the implications? Thus, dilution to others in assigning and delegating work equals the concentration of my time, abilities, resources, and quality.
Let us look at this further. When I delegate work to others and reach a concentrated level, I become microscopic and macroscopic simultaneously, similar to a quantum principle, or reaching sub-atomic levels. In Sanskrit, the term ‘arthapati’ is used, which means the Lord of Meaning and Resources, who is complete. How to be a master of oneself and the finest nuances?
That should be the goal of an enlightened executive.
If I dilute my work further and take 20 % of the 0.8 % I was left with, it comes to 0.16 % or 0.96 minutes. During this time, I can accomplish 80 % of 51.6 %, which is 40.96. Thus, in less than a minute, I can realize more than one-third of my work. And if I take this further, 20 % of 0.16 % gives me 0.032 % time in which I can complete 80 % of 40.96 %, which comes to 32.76. Thus, in less than 20 seconds, I can execute almost one-third of my work. Drilling this further, in 0.0064 % of my time, I can attain 26.2 % of my work. Or in four seconds, more than a quarter of the work is performed.
Dilution is concentration.
If I take this further, not only do I empower myself by transferring my unessential work to others, but I also empower myself by empowering my team. If I use the same principle to free them up to do what is their core, I geometrically increase the possibilities of the organization to scale, innovate, and reach excellence.
And we can concentrate on this further – almost to yogic levels, where one may ‘essentialize’ oneself from the subtlest levels to causal planes by sheer focus and the ability to drop what is not oneself. Then the only challenge that remains is to create the right teams that can take over the rest of the work from you and free you up.
What are the rate-limiting factors to the application of this principle? Lack of a strong team and leadership with a structure that can take over the delegation of roles and functions. That development may take a few years, even a decade. But a focused implementation strategy after this principle is understood can be very effective for the organization to reach excellence.
But the first and most critical rate-limiting step? One’s understanding. The mathematics may be elegant, but does it work? Can it be diluted further, making it a still more powerful tool? In the author’s opinion, this principle is exceptionally effective in management as he has personally seen it in action – but for it to work, one must develop insight into the world of practical affairs.
The graph may plateau after the first or second dilution into an asymptote. But there, too, one has to go back to the drawing board and find out where one has misunderstood it and its application. We may require lots of experimentation and tweaking.
But then, too – even if one has only reduced one’s workload by 80 %? We have already tasted success.