Joseph Juran, the management guru who coined the 80-20 rule or Pareto Principle, passed away last week at the age of 103.
I’ve referred to the 80-20 rule countless times in my career and I imagine I’m in the same boat with the majority of you who do not know the origins or author of the rule.
Juran named his principle after Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, who wrote about unequal distribution of wealth. Juran took these theories and extended them to describe “the phenomenom that in any population which contributes to a common effect, a relative few of the contributors account for the bulk of the effect.” In simpler terms, he also referred to this as the “vital few” versus the “trivial many” or that 80% of the consequences stem from 20% of the causes.
Juran originally applied the Pareto Principle to quality management issues in manufacturing. His work ultimately contributed to the development of Six Sigma, TQM and lean manufacturing. In 1954, Juran was invited to Japan to introduce quality control concepts to their fledgling manufacturing industry – which led to many Japanese companies to become global leaders in their industries.
Peter Drucker, the late author and management consultant, said this about Joe Juran, “whatever advances American manufacturing has made in the last 30 to 40 years, we owe to Joe Juran and to his untiring, steady, patient, self-effacing work.”