Book Review: The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch

By Jodi Wiley

Did you know there is an inherent imbalance in the universe which can be used to your advantage? It's called the 80/20 Principle and successful business entrepreneur Richard Koch reckons anyone can harness it.

Working very hard for very little reward? Stop it, says Koch. Focus your attention on the things you do well which come easily to you, take the least time and see the best results, and your achievement and income will soar. Sounds simple, right?

Koch says people tend to expect a democratic relationship between causes and results (the 50/50 fallacy): 'that all customers are equally valuable...that each day or week or year we spend has the same significance...that all opportunities are of roughly equal value, so that we treat them all equally'. Not so, says this ‘lazy entrepreneur’.

In business 80 per cent of profit often comes from 20 per cent of product, 80 per cent of productivity comes from the top 20 per cent of a company's employees. In life, 80 per cent of your happiness comes from 20 per cent of your time. Fascinating insights with powerful implications for work and leisure.

Koch examines in detail how the 80/20 Principle can be applied to business but also how it can be used more personally to create happiness and 'evolve your ideal lifestyle'. His suggested daily happiness habits are nothing really new but useful to remember and put into practice (eg: ‘exercise’, ‘mental stimulation’, ‘doing a good turn’) and his mission to convince everyone to work less, earn and enjoy more gets no arguments from me.

His theories are attractive but I have to admit I found the book a little more cerebral than I'm used to reading before bedtime. Happily, according to Koch, it should be possible to read 20 percent of this book to get 80 per cent of his message. Accordingly, I did not read it all (although I promise I read more than 20 per cent!) but that's only because at certain points the invitation was extended to skip chapters if you felt they weren't relevant to your situation. Which makes sense in a book designed to promote effective use of time.

I'm quite taken by the idea of reversing this inbuilt imbalance and curious about how I might apply it in my own life and work. I'm going to give it a go and see what happens.

The 80/20 Principle: The Secret To Achieving More with Less by Richard Koch is published by Random House.

Jodi Wiley is an artist, writer, teacher and blogger. She has written freelance articles and book reviews for magazines and newspapers, as well as education curriculum. She has won awards for her artwork and been a finalist for several art and illustration prizes. Visit Jodi’s blog: