The Pareto Principle

Have you heard of the Pareto Principle? In a nutshell, The Pareto principle 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.
The Pareto Principle can be applied to many areas. For example, in sales, the top 20 percent of sales people often bring in 80 percent of total sales. In occupational health, 20 percent of workplace hazards account for 80 percent of workplace injuries. If safety teams focus on those 20 percent of hazards, they can significantly reduce injuries with a targeted approach.

According to Wikipedia, The Pareto principle has many applications in quality control where it was first created. It is the basis for the Pareto chart, one of the key tools used in total quality control and Six Sigma techniques. The Pareto principle serves as a baseline for ABC-analysis and XYZ-analysis, widely used in logistics and procurement for the purpose of optimizing stock of goods, as well as costs of keeping and replenishing that stock. In engineering control theory, such as for electromechanical energy converters, the 80/20 principle applies to optimization efforts.

Look around and you will probably see the Pareto Principle in your workplace. Do 20 percent of your workers create 80 percent of the problems at work? Do 20 percent of the mechanics in your shop get to do 80 percent of the “cool” jobs? Do the mechanics in your maintenance operation spend 80 percent of their time on paperwork, research and other shop activities and 20 percent of their time actually turning wrenches?
We can take it to a higher level than just the workplace. Chances are that 20 percent of the repair stations out there perform 80 percent of the available MRO work. If we work in a repair station and want our company to be among that small group of shops that gets most of the work, we need to focus on more than just doing the work. We need to improve ourselves continually, both professionally and personally. Do we take advantage of training opportunities and attend manufacturer training and technical briefings to ensure we are the best we can be?

As a company, do we understand that aircraft maintenance is pretty much a commodity, and what will set our company apart from our competitors is attention to detail and going above and beyond the call of duty? Customers will come to us, even if our price is a little higher than other shops, if they are confident in our work and trust us. In a nutshell, it comes down to customer service. All other things being equal (technical expertise, facilities, quality of work), the companies that focus on excellent customer service will usually rise above the rest. Happy customers tend to recommend those shops to their peers in other companies, and the top shops continue to grow while others remain stagnant or even decline. It’s a vicious truth, and it all comes back to the Pareto Principle.

Our last issue of the year (December 2021 / January 2022) is online and should be hitting mailboxes soon. It seems that many of the aircraft maintenance companies we have talked to over the past few months have shared that they are having great years. The common themes that are preventing even more growth are supply chain issues and staffing. Despite those challenges, business is trending in a positive direction.

Here’s to a safe and happy holiday season and a prosperous New Year!

Thanks for reading, and we appreciate your feedback! – Joe

About D.O.M. Magazine

D.O.M. magazine is the premier magazine for aviation maintenance management professionals. Its management-focused editorial provides information maintenance managers need and want including business best practices, professional development, regulatory, quality management, legal issues and more. The digital version of D.O.M. magazine is available for free on all devices (iOS, Android, and Amazon Kindle).

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Joe Escobar (
Editorial Director

Greg Napert (
Publisher, Sales & Marketing

Bob Graf (
Director of Business, Sales & Marketing