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That’s My Opinion By Ron Sturgeon

Tools for Success – Be the 80-Percent Person A

fter Ford purchased my auto salvage business, I worked for them for 18 months. My peers at Ford used to marvel at the way that I could get tasks done in a fraction of the time others needed. I was decisive, relentless, passionate, and results- oriented with a fierce sense of urgency. But my real secret to super productivi- ty was knowing something that eludes some people their whole careers. I knew that in most cases 50 percent of the effort produces 80 percent of the results. Especially at large companies, before an initiative can start, teams devote hours to analyzing, noodling, thinking, discussing, meeting, building models. You get the drift.

I would gather the relevant metrics and DO IT because I knew that I could always cycle back and make adjustments. You’re never going to get 100 percent of the results on the first shot. I am not say- ing you shouldn’t give 100% effort. I am saying that usually speed to completion is more important than perfect accuracy. In the real world, the competitor that does something imperfectly and adjusts

Think Pareto when you design your next new initiative. Get some quick help from others. Use your gut.

You will get 80% of the results you could have every gotten had you agonized, discussed, modeled and delayed.

gets far ahead of the person who pro- crastinates, noodles, models, and discuss- es an initiative to death. In the real world, perfection isn’t worth what it costs.

I like to use a drag racer as the exam-

ple. You know that you can go fast enough to drop your elapsed time by two seconds for $10,000 in hot rod additions. But after you make that initial spend, to drop the speed by a tenth of a second will cost you another $10,000. After $50,000 spent, to drop another half second, it will cost you $10,000 for every 5/100th of a second. Eventually, it will cost you $10,000 for every 100th of a second. After a while, the return no longer justifies the invest- ment.

Most drag racers and business people know the Pareto principle: 80 percent of your success comes from 20% of your efforts. Conversely, 20% of your cus- tomers cause 80% of your heartache. Think Pareto when you design your next new initiative. Get some quick help from others. Use your gut. GO FOR IT. You will get 80% of the results you could have ever gotten had you agonized and discussed and modeled and delayed. Spend one week instead of five weeks designing it, and get 80% of the results. Now do that 52 times per year. Or spend 5 weeks designing it, get more than 80% (but never 100%), and you will only get through 10 initiatives per year. Yes, it can be exasperating, but also very satisfying. Yes, it will keep your staff hop- ping, but what’s wrong with that? Not everything you try will work, but how much more opportunity will you have to strike gold with 52 shots instead of ten? By the way, no matter how much time you spend on design, you will always need to cycle back and make improvements. As you make the adjustments, you will be working with something the planners and procrastinators don’t get very often: data from the real world. 

Ron Sturgeon, an author and founder of Mr. Mission Possible small business consulting,, combines over 35 years of entrepreneurship with exten- sive experience in consulting, speaking, and

business writing. Ron shares his expertise in strategic plan- ning, capitalization, compensation, growing market share providing field-proven, high-profit best practices.

22 Automotive Recycling | September-October 2016

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