The Vital Few

A key talent good managers should have is the ability to separate the vital from the trivial. Vilfredo Pareto is credited as the father of the “80 – 20 Rule” (i.e. 80 percent of the results come from 20% of the effort). The management golden rule should be “Concentrate on the vital few, ignore the trivial many”. Sounds like good advice, but can a manager really ignore the trivial many? The answer is sometimes no, but always yes if it impacts your ability to accomplish the vital!

Identify the Vital

There are usually several sequential and parallel events (usually referred to as milestones) that are vital to achieving a goal. Not all these events lie on the critical path (the critical path consists of Vitalflow those sequential tasks/events, which if delayed, will delay project completion). These task/events are vital to on-time completion.

Do Not confuse the vital with urgent

Vital means the task is “mission critical” and Urgent means the task needs to get done immediately or in the very near future. Just because something is urgent does not mean it is Vital. For example, a task not on the critical path that is late, although vital, is not urgent until it becomes a task on the critical path.

Keep the vital factors not urgent

In the beginning, the vital are usually not urgent since there is still a lot of time left before the Vital task has to be completed. As time passes, the Vital become more and more urgent, usually because the “Trivial Many” detract from the Vital Few. The manager who spends too much time on the trivial issues will find the Vital issues migrating from the “Vital-Not Urgent” to the “Vital and Urgent” arena. When this happens, there often isn’t enough time to adequately accomplish the Vital tasks. The trick is to continually address the Vital while they are still “Not Urgent”.

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