Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Pareto Principle

Last weekend I attended a Permaculture Diploma support event put on by Claire White and Hedvig Murray at the Grow Mayow Community Garden in Sydenham. I was reluctant to go, the weight of an unfinished diploma and the sense of how much further on people who started much later than me were, bumming me out. But I did go, and realised how much further along I was, really most of what I need to do is to turn my notes/photos/plans into a communicable document.

A lot of people at the event kept referring to the 80/20 idea, which I believe is accurately described as the Pareto Principle. It's an appealing idea, which can be used as a quantifier for the permaculture concept of design intensivity.

I have my concerns over the wide application of 80/20 thinking though, which aren't limited to the perils of presenting is to procrastinators (who will find whole new reasons for delaying action (implementation)). I've been on the wrong end of some bad business methods based on interpreting 80/20 to suit pre-conceived ideological ends, and using the concept's apparent neutrality as a disguise for power plays.

It's a reminder that no tool is neutral, and the application of thinking tools can quickly reflect prior thinking biases - a caveat that should guide their use.