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The Pareto law

Most of the time, when choosing a solution or a tool we want this tool to be able to do everything … just in case of ! because we want this solution to be reusable for other projects we think having an exhaustive tool will be the best choice. That’s a terrible mistake for at least two good reasons:

  1. By choosing like this we don’t necessarily select the most appropriate tool for the current subject/project.
  2. When we’ll start a new project, maybe the selected (and more exhaustive when selecting the solution) will be obsolete, or will not be able to cover the needed features.

So it’s vital to choose the solution considering the current project and not in thinking about the next potential coming projects. Having that in mind it’s also important to focus on the usage and not the number of features. This is where the Pareto law comes in. Indeed and again thinking we will address 100% of the case with the same solution is a mistake. As example, do you have an idea of the number feature percentage usage to do with Microsoft Excel ? Excel – in number of features – is huge, and really no one uses all the features ! but everyone uses it and is really satisfied by this tool, right ?

The Pareto law states:

That for many outcomes, roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes (the “vital few”). Other names for this principle are the 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity.”

Source Wikipedia

Saying differently whatever the solution or tool we may acquire, by using 20% of its features will provide us 80% of the outcome/value ! So, that’s why it’s important to make these 20% very easy to use and flexible when you make such a choice like this.

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