Sunday, May 1, 2016

Maybe it's a different 80-20 Rule I'm thinking of here

The 80-20 rule, or Pareto Principle as it is known in some circles, can be summed up as 80 percent of the output comes from 20 percent of the input.  Another way to look at it is in terms of distribution: 80 percent of your results will fall within 20 of a parameter.

When I worked at the FBN Consulting Company, one of the things the mentors tried to instill was a get in front of the client and show them how much you are dedicated to working on their issues.  The idea was to be proactive but more so to show the client that they are getting value for the money we are charging them.  This manifested itself in a variety of ways but one that comes to mind was the constant push to communicate what you are doing for the customer as much as possible.

I'm not really explaining it right so an example.  Let's say Marty at ABC Widget Company calls at 8 am because he has a problem.  Clients rarely called to ask how your weekend was.  The mentor would assess if the problem was career advancing, interesting or just a routine issue.  If it was the later, it would be assigned to the Field Engineer (me).  My mentor would literally assign me the work order at 8:33 and then at 8:40 ask me if I've contacted the client yet.  Usually the answer was yes I called him.

"Did you call his office or his cell phone?" 

*  This was back when cell phones were common but not necessary the predominant form of contact they are today and certainly not smart phones (the pre iPhone Era).  AT best you had a feature phone.  Either way, the primary source of contact was usually their office number.

Whichever I used, he would tell me to call the other.  "And send him an email too."

This is one of those paradigms that follows the 80-20 rule.  It's gonna work as expected with 8 out of 10 people and its gonna apply to about 80% of the issues, problems and questions clients have. 

I might be projecting a little of myself here, but some people really only want progress reports when there is actual forward progress to report.  In other words, repeating what you told me an hour ago with no new news or telling me what you plan to do doesn't really tell me anything I don't already know and just wastes my time. 

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