Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Way Back: Blog # 5
by Gammy L. Singer

I was struck the other day, while perusing Murder Must Advertise, (a yahoo web group I subscribe to where I read a lot of posts, but mostly lurk and rarely post), by a discussion of Pareto’s Principle. Well, okay, it wasn’t actually a discussion. One indignant poster was insulting another poster, (showing off his excellent command of the English language, by the way—impressive) that culminated, however, in a stupid harangue about whether Pareto’s Principle was a principle or a rule. (The offending original poster called it a rule! Tsk.) Sheesh—much ado and poo-poo about nothing!

However, I was interested because I had never heard of said principle—or rule, whatever. So I looked it up and was totally shocked! It is a business principle which says, in effect, that 20% of people in a business, organization et al. wind up doing 80% of the work. Yes, check out that club or church you belong to—see, applicable, ain't it? It’s an observation of the “vital few” and the “trivial many,” according to Dr. Joseph Juran, a Quality Manager pioneer who was the one responsible for taking Pareto’s idea and translating it into a business theory. (Pareto’s name stuck, however, probably because of the alliteration.) Pareto originally used it to describe the idea that 20% of people in the world (a vital few) hold 80% of the wealth.

The theory works other ways too. “In Juran’s initial work he identified 20 percent of the defects causing 80% of the problems. Project [Business] Managers know that 20 % of the work (the first 10% and the last 10%) consume 80% of your time and resources. “

Juran also said you can apply the 80/20 rule to almost anything, from the science of management to the physical world. And that’s what tripped me out! In the novel I’m working on now, I have a best friend female character theorizing to my protagonist about the fact that if you aren’t eighty percent or more happy with your man, then it’s time to let him go. Women hang on to and wait around for that twenty percent of good stuff to show up, (sometimes they stick for a measly ten percent), conveniently forgetting that they’re eighty percent miserable, eighty percent of the time.

Gee, didn’t know there was a principle involved. Or maybe I’ve heard something about this in the past, read it somewhere and my slumbering subconscious coughed it up. You think?
Hmm…so should I call the book, The 80/20 Man? How’s that for a title? If it gets sold, you heard it here first!

I’m awful at titles—better work on it.

80/20 Lover? 80/20 Love? So, Gammy, and where’s the suspense aspect? Where’s that in the title?

Oh hell. Mumble, mumble. I’ll work on it.

Almost done with the synopsis, folks. Tweaking two versions of the first three chapters—black heroine, white heroine. Should I be keeping this info under my hat?


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