Last month, I wrote about the Plan-Do-Check-Act components of the Deming Cycle.
Another theoretical concept that applies to training is the 80-20 rule of Pareto’s Principle. This is not to be confused with the Law of Diminishing Returns.
The 80/20 Rule is a general rule of thumb, or as I call it, a “guesstimate”. It may be 70/30 or 85/15. The basic concept is a small quantity of X results in a large quantity of Y.
Who the heck is Pareto?
In 1895, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto observed something very interesting while studying the distribution of wealth in his country, as well as every other country he studied. 80% of all the land was owned by only 20% of the population!
Surprisingly, within the next 50 years, this particular distribution was emerging in other aspects of life.
Dr. Joseph Juran, a professional quality management expert working in the US in the 1930s and 40s (but not as famous as Edward Deming) recognized the above principle. He was quoted “the vital few and trivial many”.
Dr. Juran’s observed only 20 percent of “something” is responsible for a massive 80 percent of the “results”. This became known as the 80/20 Rule, or Pareto’s Principle.
Basically, Pareto’s Principle indicates that in any situation, only some (20 percent) are critical and many (80 percent) are insignificant. In the 80/20 rule, the input and output relationships are not balanced.
While Pareto’s observed the 80/20 ratio for land possessions, Juran’s case observed 80 percent of all problems were caused by 20 percent of manufacturing defects.
You see, you can apply Pareto’s Principle to almost anything.
Do you own a house? The same applies to simple things like those repair jobs and renovations around the house. Using Pareto’s Principle, in your list of ten to-do items, only two will prove to be worth at least as much (if not more) than the other eight projects.
What the heck does this have to do with Track and Field Training?
Out of all the training elements in your day to day training regiment, there should be really 2 out of the 10 elements you should be focusing on. For a Masters Sprinter, in my opinion, speed training and recovery & regeneration are your biggest 2 things to focus on for maximal results.
I’m not say NOT to do weights, yoga or Pilates. I’m not saying continue eating fast food and don’t take your supplements either; there are just some elements that will produce better results in the long run, and in this case, it’s PERFORMANCE that you want!
A lot of athletes focus too much on the little things, when at the end of the day, your training and recovery will result in the best performance. Everything else is important, but not as significant.
A Modern Day Example with Harvard University
Harvard University announced recently that from now on undergraduate students from low-income families will pay no tuition. In making the announcement, Harvard’s president Lawrence H. Summers said, “When only 10 percent of the students in Elite higher education come from families in lower half of the income distribution, we are not doing enough. We are not doing enough in bringing elite higher education to the lower half of the income distribution.”
So in this case of Elite higher education, they want to change their current 90/10 rule to be more like the 80/20 rule!
If you know of a family earning less than $60,000 USD a year with an honor student graduating from high school soon, Harvard University wants to pay the tuition. This prestigious University recently announced that from now on undergraduate students from low-income families can go to Harvard for free… no tuition and no student loans! Wow!
To find out more about Harvard offering free tuition for families making less than $60,000 a year visit Harvard’s financial aid website at: http://www.fao.fas.harvard.edu or call the school’s financial aid office at (617) 495-1581.