Do more that matters by doing less

As a leader, you make dozens, if not hundreds of decisions each week.  If you took the time to write them all down and then identified the ones that made a significant impact on the team and/or the business, I bet you could count those important and significant decisions on one hand.  Imagine if you made one or two more of those each week.  What impact would that have on your business?

This post will provide you with examples of the changes you can make with how you lead your team and manage your time so you can spend more time focusing on the business decisions that truly matter.  As the 80/20 Principle has proven time and time again – “very few things matter at all; but those that do, matter enormously.”



Here are some examples of the Principle at work from The 80/20 Manager by Richard Koch (pronounced Kotch):

  • Just 1.5 percent of the world’s languages are spoken by 90 percent of people.
  • A study of 300 movies released over eighteen months found that four of them—1.3 percent—commanded 80 percent of total box-office receipts.
  • In common speech, less than 1 percent of words are used 80 percent of the time.
  • The delightful Bill Bryson tells us that there are thirty thousand different edible plants on our planet. Yet just eleven of them account for 93 percent of everything we eat—to the nearest whole number, that is a 93/0 relationship (as eleven is 0.04 percent of thirty thousand). Can you name those eleven plants? I came up with potatoes, wheat, corn, rice, beans, and barley.
  • The thriller writer David Baldacci says that 3 percent of Washington DC’s zip codes account for more than 70 percent of the city’s violent crime.

The ten 80/20 manager types as described in Koch’s book are found below (along with details on each):

  1. The Investigating ManagerAm I a detective?  Here are some questions you can ask:
      • Which single powerful idea will turbo-charge my business?
      • Who are my most profitable customers and how are they different from the rest?
      • Who is achieving great results and how?
      • What are my most profitable product(s)/product line(s)
  2. Super-Connecting ManagerMake a list of weak ties of the people that you believe are connected to or are your target customer
    • Focus on the super-connectors first. Those that have the largest and most active networks.
  3. Mentoring managerHow can I find ways to support my team as individuals and as a group
    • Am I creating an environment where people feel safe to leverage strengths and seek help for weaknesses?
  4. Leveraged ManagerHave I visualized success?
    • Am I focused on identifying and making the few decisions that matter the most?
    • Am l leveraging what I love to do and am good at delegating, eliminating, automating or procrastinating about the rest?
  5. Liberating ManagerWhat am I doing to bring out the best in each of my team members?
    • Am I putting the success of the team above my own?
  6. Meaning-seeking ManagerAm I seeking to live a life of meaning and purpose?
    • Am I encouraging and supporting my team to live a life of meaning and purpose?
  7. Time Rich ManagerAm I spending my time on decisions and actions that have outsized output?
    • Am I looking for ways to escape the tyranny of the moment and thinking how to shape the future to be radically better than the present for me, the team, the customer and the organization?
  8. The Simplifying ManagerAm I looking for ways to make key business processes as simple as possible and no simpler?
    • Am I starting each day and week with one simplifying objective?
  9. The Lazy ManagerAm I striving to combine being lazy with intelligent thought and high ambition?
  10. The Strategic ManagerAm I constantly looking for dramatically better ways of doing business?
    1. Can I create a simple statement that encompasses our strategy?
    2. How can I help create a strategy that would put my own company out of business?

There is no need to try to be all of these different types of 80/20 managers.  Start with one that best fits your style and personality and then nail it before considering a second type. Please note that it may take months or even years to master the first one.  Be patient.  Be diligent. Be disciplined.

For more depth on this topic, I recommend picking up Koch’s book – The 80/20 Manager.  It is a practical guide to help you use these today in your role whether you are a leader or on the front-line.  Here is a short interview (3 min. video) of Koch at the London Business Forum.

Here is an amusing bonus video (6 mins) showing how doing the most important things first can impact your life and your business.

Bill – Certified Scaling Up Coach

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Published by Bill Flynn

Gazelles Member Advisor and early stage startup specialist with a proven track record with 16 Boston-based startups (9 to date with 5 successful outcomes, advisor to 7 others); SMB to Fortune 500 companies. 20+ years of Senior Sales, Marketing and GM experience in industries including mobile advertising, security, digital advertising, e-commerce and IT. Core Competencies: Player/Coach, Metrics-driven, Execution-based philosophy, Life-long learner

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