To get results in this competitive landscape an organization needs to be stronger, faster, and
more efficient. The pitfall that most organizations fall into as they embark along this journey is
they get obsessed with correcting their inefficiencies and weaknesses rather than channeling
their resources to their strengths. The 10-80-10 Principle is a framework that helps organization
strategically navigate through complex situations with maximum results by helping them
reduce the time they spend on weaknesses and increase the time spent on strengths.
Every organization has internal strengths (Top 10) and weaknesses (Bottom 10). All other
actions are considered to be Majority 80; the Majority 80 tends to take the lead of either the
Top 10 or Bottom 10, depending on where the attention and resources of the organization is
focused. If an organization tends to lead with the Top 10, the Majority 80 follows them and
they create a dynamic organization. If the Bottom 10 leads the Majority 80 follows them and
they create a static organization. Through time organizations will fluctuate through cycles of
being both dynamic and static. The more time an organization spends being dynamic is directly
proportional to the performance of the organization – more time being dynamic, more
performance, less time being dynamic, less performance.
To successfully implement The 10-80-10 Principle it starts with articulating a clear vision of
what the organization is trying to do, this desired result forms the basis to successfully
implement the remaining steps. Once the organization is clear on the desired results, they need
to identify what within the organization is Top 10 with respect to the vision and what is Bottom
10. Top 10 refers to the activities that are currently being done that are working toward
achieving the desired result, whereas Bottom 10 is the activities that are being performed that
work in opposition to the vision. Keep in mind what is defined as Top 10 and Bottom 10 is NOT
absolute. Top 10 does not mean “good” and Bottom 10 mean “bad”, Top 10 simply means it is
supporting the vision and Bottom 10 is working against it. Top 10 and Bottom 10 may easily flipflop
when the desired result is changed.
A company going through a creative process considers rigid processes and procedures to be
cumbersome, Bottom 10 weaknesses whereas a company going through a cost-cutting exercise
considers the same actions to be Top 10. What defines Top 10 and Bottom 10 is how those
actions fit relative to the desired result. A Top 10 behavior is one that currently exists that
supports the desired result. A Bottom 10 behavior is one that currently opposes the desired
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