Book Review: The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch

At a glance

Core topic: Effectiveness and efficiency
Content: Background on the history and implications of the 80/20 principle; examples of numerous applications for business, and in our personal and professional lives
Writing style: Academic
Who might enjoy this book: Individuals looking for a new way to think about their time and their to-do list; busy professionals and business owners looking for how to best prioritize what they need to do to achieve results


One of the few principles that promote both effectiveness and efficiency at once, the key idea in this book is that a disproportionately large portion of your outputs derives from a small portion of your inputs. Koch, a management consultant who worked at the major consulting firms The Boston Consulting Group and Bain & Co. before co-founding LEK, describes how he used the principle in life and in his consulting work. He goes into the theory and background of the principle, providing numerous examples of it in practice. From an idea and application perspective, there is a lot to learn in this book, with Koch even suggesting how you can use the principle to maximize your own happiness.

Koch does a good job of combining the academic with the practical to exhibit his points. He also shows how and when to apply 80/20 analysis, a more systematic, quantitive application, and 80/20 thinking, a broader, more intuitive application of the principle.

I’ll admit, when I first read this book, while there were many good examples I wouldn’t have thought of, I found it a bit tedious to get through as the ideas seemed quite repetitive. However, when I went back to capture the notes from my markups, I was reminded of the value of the perspectives presented on how to apply the 80/20 Principle.

By the numbers

Overall: 3.5/5
Content: 4/5
Readability: 3/5
Length (in relation to content / ideas): 2.5/5