Thursday, 28 January 2021

The Pareto Principle and Pregnancy Help

Whenever I read a book which intrigues me, may the Lord help my family and friends. If I’m not careful, every conversation brings me back to whatever in the book is on my mind, which can be—if I become too repetitive—downright aggravating.

Today I’m reading The One Thing, by real-estate mogul Gary Keller, a 2013 best-seller designed to help us find “the one thing” we must do to succeed, instead of wasting our efforts on so many distractions which keep us from fulfilling our mission.

Because of this, each day I’m thinking of “the one thing” I must do. I’m sure I’m driving my wonderful wife bonkers with this new fixation. Sorry, I digressed from the one thing this column is to be about.

Here’s what strikes me about our work in pregnancy help: We have a ton of things which go on every day in our offices, mobile units, maternity homes, and agencies. But I’m asking, “What are those things which make the biggest difference in the lives of those we see?” And, “Are we doing those things?”

In some form, we’ve all heard of “The Pareto Principle,” which Keller discusses in his book (pp.36-37). You’ve heard, “20 percent of the people do 80 percent of the work,” as have I. In almost any endeavor, this appears to be the case. This saying is an offshoot of—you guessed it—The Pareto Principle.

Joseph Juran coined the idea back in the 30s. As a Western Electric consultant visiting GM, Juran cracked a code on a GM card reader which was producing gibberish, capturing the attention of GM managers.

They asked Juran to look at their employee compensation structure and Juran happened upon Vilfredo Pareto’s 19th century work on land ownership in Italy (pointing out 80 percent of land was owned by 20 percent of the people). From Pareto’s ideas, Juran figured out that with GM, only a few flaws produced a huge majority of defects.

Juran went on to write The Quality Control Handbook, which is still used today. Giving a short name to his concept of the “vital few and trivial many,” Juran created the phrase, “The Pareto Principle.”

Richard Koch, in his book, The 80/20 Principle, defined things this way: “The 80/20 principle asserts that a minority of causes, inputs or effort usually lead to a majority of the results, outputs or rewards.” 

This idea matters to the pregnancy help community. A lot. If we find the 20 percent of what we do which most impacts our success in reaching and serving the abortion-minded and vulnerable; which most impacts her (and his) decision, which most impacts reaching dads and creating two-parent families, which most impacts spiritual decisions which alter the course of a life—we change the world.

Did we get that? Finding what is most important can change the world. Create a culture of life in this world and society shifts dramatically. Build families in this world and it is stronger. Assist others in taking new steps of faith and we’re all better for it. 

Tweet This: Finding what is most important in the work we do can change the world. #prolife @kirkwalden

I’m thinking of a friend in Minnesota who called me the other day about something unrelated to this column and remember a decision her board of directors made years ago: Eighty percent of our resources as a ministry will go toward reaching and serving the abortion-minded woman. They figured this out and it revolutionized the ministry.

As ministries and organizations, we must constantly ask, “What are those initiatives, programs and activities we engage in which most move those we see?” In today’s language, “What is working big-time for us?”

For one ministry, it may be the mobile unit parked near the abortion center is having a tremendous impact. For them, it is time to pour more resources (time, effort, and funding) into this asset. 

For another, an online marketing initiative is bringing in new patients. By investing more in this project, more lives will be saved.

For some ministries, it might be time to stop and assess, saying honestly, “We aren’t as effective as we need to be. Let’s invest (time, effort, and funding) in finding sister ministries succeeding where we are struggling, then pour our resources into the solutions we find.”

As pregnancy help organizations, there is always room to grow. If a ministry ever says, “We’ve arrived,” it’s in trouble. We must keep looking for those areas—perhaps that 20 percent—where we can exponentially succeed.

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As we launch into the second half of 2018, let’s challenge ourselves to look for the 20 percent of our efforts creating the most impact in our community. Our 20 percent may be an initiative, could include paid or volunteer staff, and might even apply to our financial supporters. 

Whatever our 20 percent may be, let’s invest in those things which we know will bring powerful outcomes. 

Pareto’s Principle may not apply to every aspect of our work. But, as we move forward to make abortion unthinkable in our world, finding those few things which bring the biggest results becomes more important, every day.

Kirk Walden

Kirk Walden is a senior writer with Pregnancy Help News, an Advancement Specialist with Heartbeat International and author of The Wall. For banquet speaking engagements, contact Gloria Leyda at Ambassador Speakers Bureau. His new Faith Revolution Podcast is online at

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