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80/20 and Strategy

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IN THE PREVIOUS CHAPTERS we have looked at applications of the 80/20 Rule to specific elements of corporate sustainability. In this chapter we will look at strategic approaches to embed 80/20 thinking on sustainability into the organisation. Here are five strategies (in ascending order of ambition).

Optimum number of targets

In an article to my mailing list, The Low Carbon Agenda, I recently recommended that the maximum number of sustainability targets an organisation should adopt was seven. An adherent of ‘One Planet Living’challenged that statement as the OPL system has 10 Principles. My arguments for fewer targets are:

Seven is regarded as the longest list that most people can remember without having to make an effort. This is known as Miller’s Law after the psychologist who discovered the phenomenon (strictly speaking Miller’s ‘magic number’ is 7±2).

If you have too many targets and you can justify a sub-optimal solution by saying ‘well, it meets targets 3,4,6,7 and 9…’ when the major issue is target 1.

The 80/20 Rule says focus on what matters – having a smaller set of targets gives you that focus.
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Keywords: employee engagement; green business; product design; strategy; supply chain

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2014

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