The vital few and the trivial many is a quote attributed to the quality guru J.M. Juran. I had not thought of that term until I was reading Gary Harpst’s strategy book, The Six Disciplines years ago where he addresses VFOs or Vital Few Objectives.
The best way to address the vital few is to explain what it isn’t. I’m reminded of a magazine publisher who never met a bad idea for growing his company. Please, not another idea.
Greg could never say no to ideas. Many were good ones. But he had too many. I’m reminded of an old Chinese proverb, “He who chases many rabbits chases none.” Greg was chasing too many rabbits. That’s why his business does not grow. He cannot focus on the vital few.
I have no research to back this up, but I do not allow any of my clients to work on more than three big objectives. For 10-person teams, it’s just one big objective until we crush it. As you grow you can have more objectives, but no more than one per department.
Do you follow the doctrine of the vital few? Is it working?