Apr 02, 2018
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, which specifies an unequal relationship between inputs and outputs. The principle states that 20% of the invested input is responsible for 80% of the results obtained.
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, in some cases seeing an effect within minutes. But this is not the place to discuss whether it is real or not. It is the principle that is interesting. Hahnemann, the founder of Homeopathy, postulated that ‘As cures like, dilution increases potency and disease is caused by miasms’. Of these three suppositions, it is the second one, ‘dilution increases potency’ that catches my fancy. Let us see how it connects with the Pareto Principle.
So let us try to look at Pareto mathematically. 20 percent of my work accomplishes 80 percent 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 percent 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 percent of my time accomplishes 80 percent of my work, what would happen if I concentrated on 20 percent of the 20 percent of my most productive time? That would be 4 percent and at that time I would accomplish 80 percent of my work done. That would be 64 percent. That means in 4 percent of my most productive time I can accomplish 64 percent of my work. If I take my workday as comprising of ten hours a day, which would be 600 minutes, I can complete almost two-thirds of my work in 24 minutes.
This brings me to my favorite concept of the core. To me, core means what I am best at, what I have an aptitude for, what I love doing. This is 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 in my core.
Thus, the Pareto Principle, and the concepts of Homeopathy, are not dealing with the quantity per se but on quality, the atomic, the subtle, the microscopic. The subtler I become, the vaster in scale I can be since I now have 96 percent of 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 percent of 4 percent of my most productive time, which 0.8 percent or 4.8 minutes. In this time, I can accomplish 80 percent of 64 percent of my work, which comes out to 51.2 percent. That means, 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 but also macroscopic at the same time, almost 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 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 percent of the 0.8 percent I was left with, it comes to 0.16 percent or 0.96 minutes. In this time, I can accomplish 80 percent of 51.6 percent which comes to 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 percent of 0.16 percent gives me 0.032 percent time in which I can complete 80 percent of 40.96 percent 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 percent of my time I can attain 26.2 percent 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 bypassing my unessential work to others, I empower myself by empowering my team. And if I use the same principle to free them up to do what is their core, I can geometrically increase the possibilities of the organization to scale, to innovate, to reach excellence.
And we can keep concentrating 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 along with the 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.
But the first and most important rate-limiting step? One’s understanding. 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 powerful and extremely effective in management as he has personally seen it in action. One just needs to develop insight into the world of practical affairs.
The graph may flatten out 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. Lots of experimentation and tweaking may be needed. But then too, even if one has only reduced one’s workload by 80 percent? We have already tasted success.
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