How Mr. Pareto Head Saved the Day…Again!


On the topic of data and numbers, I was recently working with a client in the piano industry to try to determine the biggest cost to his business as a result of defects.

I got a lot of great data sent my way, and a strong, ahem, nudge, towards what he and his team thought was the problem.


This is when I decided to call on Mr. Pareto. Mr. Pareto, although now long gone from this world, created a wonderful tool called the Pareto Chart. How do you pronounce that you ask? I used to say Pa-rei-to (with a long e-i ), until I was corrected by my good Italian friend, “It’s Pa-RE-to. Short E, get rid of the I, and roll your R!”. Yes Sir!

Regardless of how you want to call it, it’s a great tool. What this tool does is that it allows you to see the trees from the forrest. My client insisted that his most common defect was sticking keys on the pianos. He was right. He dealt with 268 sticky keys this past year at a cost of $200 each to repair.

So using the Pareto Chart, I tracked all the types of defects he received, their frequency, and their cost to fix. In doing this exercise, I found out that although it’s true that the sticky keys are the most common problem, it’s not the most expensive! The mystery deepens…..


It turned out that the ‘pin block’ (or the thing-a-ma-jig that makes sure the piano doesn’t go out of tune), which costs $3,000 to fix, was defective in 29 pianos.

Thus in essence, even though his team had to deal with more sticky keys than pin blocks, sticky keys were only costing half ($41k) of what pin blocks were costing him to fix ($87k).

Moral of the story; Don’t judge the book by its cover. Open it up and read it. You might be surprised with what you find.

Have a great long weekend everyone!

Until next week…..