The New 70/30 Rule of Inventive Thinking

Josh Linkner
January 12, 2020

Josh Linkner

Five-time tech entrepreneur, hyper-growth CEO, NY Times bestselling author and venture capitalist.

The infamous 80/20 rule seems to permeate business literature. 80% of your profits come from the best 20% of your customers; 20% of your top people drive 80% of your revenue; 20% of your most productive time drives 80% of your productivity.

While this magic ratio applies in many cases, there's an important new kid on the block when it comes to out-punching the competition, meeting the challenges of the day, and enjoying sustainable success: The 70/30 Rule.

In today's complex and competitive climate, relying on established processes, previous knowledge, and existing systems will only get you 70% of the way toward your potential. The plans you set at the beginning of the year, for example, will likely only yield 70% of your goal. Simply playing the music that's already written on the page may have worked in the past, but in our fast-moving and fluid environment, previous approaches will only get you 70% of the way there.

Since most of us strive for better than a C-minus performance, how can we snag the remaining 30%? It comes from our ability to adapt in real time. Our willingness to defy traditions, seek fresh approaches, bounce back from missteps with imagination, and reinvent as we go.

Creative problem solving. Innovative approaches. Inventive thinking. These are the ingredients to fill the wildly coveted 30% gap. But unfortunately, many leaders have a blind spot and can't see the shortfall until it's too late.

Historically, we didn't need to fully develop our creative skills because existing models lasted longer. With business cycles flowing over decades, the need to improvise wasn't important. Which may lead us to discount the 70/30 rule, ignoring the urgent calling to cultivate inventive thinking. But in the new era of tech, disruption, and change, we can no longer rely on the approaches of the past and expect the same results.

In the same way that interest compounds, the creativity gap will grow over time if not addressed. This has led to the downfall of many great organizations and will increasingly take a toll on both companies and careers. On the other hand, developing creative skills and mindsets will not only fill today's gap, but also compound in your favor for years to come.

We must act with urgency to inject inventive thinking into our daily work, or we run the risk of restricting our full potential. Your past training, experiences, systems, and approaches may get you a minimally passing grade, but those alone will keep you far away from what's truly possible.

Your 70% may already be there. It's time to discover your missing 30.

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