Irregular Insights from the Principle
It is important to try to grasp the fluidity and force driving 80/20 relationships. Unless you appreciate this, you will interpret the 80/20 Principle too rigidly and fail to exploit its full potential. The world is full of small causes that, when combined, can have momentous consequences. Think of a saucepan of milk that, when heated above a certain temperature, suddenly changes form, swelling up and bubbling over. One moment you have a nice, orderly pan of hot milk; the next moment you can either have a wonderful cappucino or, if you are a second too late, a mess on top of your stove. Things take a little more time in business, but one year you can have an excellent and very profitable IBM dominating the computer industry and, before long, a combination of small causes results in a blinded monolith staggering to avoid destruction. Creative systems operate away from equilibrium. Cause and effect, input and output, operate in a non-linear way. You do not usually get back what you put in; you may sometimes get very much less and sometimes get very much more. Major alterations in a business system can flow from apparently insignificant causes. At any one time, people of equal intelligence, skill and dedication can produce quite unequal results, as a result of small structural differences. Events cannot be predicted, although predictable patterns tend to recur.