Pruning: an application of the 80 - 20 rule
The 80-20 rule is the idea that 80% of the outputs come from 20% of the causes.
Some examples are:
80% of the headaches come from 20% of the business relationships.
80% of your creative output comes from 20% of your time.
It means that there’s a lot of room for cutting.
The difficulty is that when you’re in the weeds, you have no idea what your reality is.
So when you start to whittle down to the 20%, you risk severing the good stuff.
For example, a supplier can be a minor pain in the ass, but their product delivered in a timely fashion can be a $50,000 saving, a lifeline for the business.
Or, you set aside a certain time of the day to lump in creative work, but realize that your output just doesn’t materialize.
In truth, it’s hard for a young business to apply the 80-20 rule.
I think culling is part of the natural progression of a successful business, not a conscious effort.
It was most evident in wine production, where I stripped away the processing steps to expose the essence. 80% of a wine’s quality is related to 20% of the decisions.
Another way to look at the 80-20 rule is to imagine yourself pruning your apple tree, an example I use because I relate every subject to winemaking or farming.
When you cut off branches of a dormant tree, what looks like sacrificing output is actually creating balance.
If you watch an inexperienced person prune a tree, they start with small cuts, agonize over the small decisions, and often remove the good options.
Compare this to an experienced pruner, with the talent of imagining what they want the tree to look like in five years. They strip the frame back with confident cuts, littering the ground with fruiting branches that will end up in the compost.
On rare occasions the tree escapes with a few cuts, but usually an efficiency is waiting to be revealed.
See you next Friday,
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