Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Pareto Principle (15 MAY 2013)

There is nothing special about the numbers 80 or 20, mathematically. However, empirically is has been noted time and time again that approximately 80% of the effects are due to 20% of the causes. This principle was named after an Italian economist named Pareto, who observed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population, it has since been applied in fields as diverse as retail, IT, occupational health and safety, health care, agriculture and criminology.

I use it myself when investigating the root causes of failures, but it was brought closer to home when I was advised to apply the 80-20 rule when organising my schedule. It made me realise that I spent a significant quota of the working day doing jobs for other people rather than concentrating on the main objective. After this enlightenment, I wondered if the slow progress of turning my garden into paradise might also be due to a similar lack of focus.
It’s true that I do spend a lot of time trying to coax little plants that are half dead to stay alive rather than planning on a larger scale. This trough of violas was labelled as a failure in a previous post, being pooped on by a cat didn’t help (... 80% of crimes are committed by 20% of criminals). In early May I noticed that a tiny bud was poking out of the only surviving plant. Then one of its companions, an excess plant pressed in amongst the primulas, also started to flower with the deepest purple petals. I regrouped the viola together and they’ve been thriving despite being battered by harsh winds this week.
Paradise must definitely include deep purple ...
This is how my garden looked au naturel on one of the sunnier days in May.
Many a gardener would grimace at this sight, but it makes my heart sing.
… and bright yellow too.

According to the Pareto Principle, 20% of products in retail generate 80% of the profits. There’s a two week period when my cherry tree is chock-full of pink blossom and my paving choked with dandelions, obvious contenders for the top 20%, but how does one measure profits in a garden ? 

This is my garden posing for a photo.

80% of sales are made by 20% of sales staff. When bosses recognise this they can put in place measures to determine who should be promoted or retrained.

Should bluebells get the sack ? ...

... or maybe pieris just because it’s so unpopular.

80% of computer errors are caused by 20% of bugs.
The wallflowers have been flowering since winter. They are in full glory now, just as long as you look at them from the right angle.   

Most of the errors in this garden are caused by planting in the wrong place.

I currently have two sets of bleeding hearts. One I planted myself.

 The other planted by the previous gardener. A paradise garden would need several more.

Do the colours need to match in paradise ?

These photos were taken in my garden during May.
Visit Carol’s blog to see what’s happening in gardens around the world on the 15th of every month :
©Copyright 2013 b-a-g. All rights reserved. Content created by b-a-g for


Andrea said...

Oh hello b-a-g, till this time after years of blogging friendship, i still haven't known your real name. I am so amused by this lovely post, bring me much thinking. I love your flowers too but they will not bring much awe without the 20% words. I heard this for the first time, but i guess it will guide me also through the 20% of my life, who knows this 20% will make the difference! I am still hoping. I realized, 20% of the dis-assembly in the aging brain makes the 80% dissatisfaction in the outcome; e.g. forgetfulness! haha, thanks for this post, love it.

Patty said...

Great post. I guess it is time to figure out who my 20% top performers are in the garden. Keep the pieris, it is lovely.

Anonymous said...

I would say that 20 percent of the plants in most gardens produce 80% of the impact. Your garden is looking lovely right now.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Carolyn. A select number do all the hard work. I like the bluebells, don't ax them.

scottweberpdx said...

Hahaha...i had to laugh at your Wallflower comment, mine is the same, sad and sprawling...but it certainly blooms it's little head off!

Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

I had never heard of pareto but the hubby has since he used it in economics...educators should consider this...your garden looks wonderful much like garden is dominated by weeds right now...I will get to them eventually, maybe! Love those wonderful viola!!

HELENE said...

It is typical that it was an economist that made this rule, in real life things are rarely like this, unless you go looking for it, and discard all the things that don't fit in and where the rule doesn’t apply :-)

Keep your pieris if you like it, whether it is 'popular' or not shouldn't really matter, I love mine! ...and that goes for the rest of your plants, if you like them and they grow well, keep them, if not apply my favourite saying: out with the old, in with the new!

debsgarden said...

I have a habit of slowly scrolling down through a blog post, taking in each individual photo as I go. As I looked at your violas in the tub, the view in the background caught my attention. Then what a delight to see the next photo! It made my heart sing, too!

HolleyGarden said...

I think your garden looks great - and it looks like 80% of it is in bloom! I have often wondered about the 80/20 rule, and if I could ever change it - if I got rid of the "bad" 20%, would the remaining 80% divide itself into another 80/20? In other words, if I got rid of a couple of ugly roses (the 20%), would I have 100% beauty, or would something else start to die in order to represent the 20%? These are the things that I ponder about for hours. I suppose paradise would break the mold and have 100% beauty! And I guess that's why our gardens are never completely finished.

b-a-g said...

Thanks all for your comments.

Helene - I know what you mean, the more I work alongside mother nature, the more I realise that there are no rules.

Holley - You make an interesting point. Here's a section from the linked article : "Due to the scale-invariant nature of the power law relationship, the relationship applies also to subsets of the income range. Even if we take the ten wealthiest individuals in the world, we see that the top three (Carlos Slim Helú, Warren Buffett, and Bill Gates) own as much as the next seven put together."

Not quite sure how we apply this to your roses though.

linniew said...

Your garden is looking romantic and vibrant b-a-g. A paradisecertainly.
I do understand about the violas, so sweet. I accidentally bought a pieris once, don't know what I was thinking...(I'll toss mine if you toss yours.)

Pam's English Garden said...

b-a-g, I am still laughing at this great posting! I am very familiar with pareto -- as a school principal, 80 percent of my time was taken up with the problems of 20 percent of the students. As for your garden, take heart ... I have the best crop of dandelions in Pennsylvania! P. x

Diana Studer said...

last time I read 80 20, it was advice for using Google Plus. 80% other people's posts and comments (engagement is queen) and 20% your own work (content is king). Didn't know 80 20 was called Pareto.

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