Price's law observes that from any given group, half of the work is done by a minor fraction of the whole (specifically 50% of the work is done by a square root of the body). Jordan Peterson calls this fractional subset the horrible people, for who else could they be, to not share the work equally?
To be clear: everybody does work, but I believe the distinction here is the right work, or that work which helps the bottom line the most. This is as much about quality as quantity. Many people can find "make work" to keep themselves busy, but it isn't the right work for what is needed.
Calling those doing the right work horrible is, of course, an inaccurate way of describing them, but it does make one pause to think. These people are your most valuable assets, as they are producing the most relevant outcomes—or from another perspective: they are working on the right things. Perhaps look at them more as the dirty dozen.
Considered in a sports world: the player who makes the most goals is more valuable than one who makes the most shots. In a business world perhaps it is the person who builds themselves out of a job by reducing unnecessary process or the individual who keeps a department humming along rather than creating roadblocks and bureaucracy.
Once you recognize Price's law, you will see it happening everywhere—it is part of how we operate as humans. In some walks of your life you might be that "horrible" producing person, in others maybe not.
To explore just a little more:
- If you have a team of 10 people, 3 of them are doing half of the work
- With a team of 50, you have 7 doing half of the work
Look to your left, then to your right. Who are they?
Mark Ericksen has a more involved analysis of the law, but knowing that this is a studied principle which holds true time and again, consider who these people might be within your own organization.
Who are the "horrible people" working on the right things and doing half the overall effort?
Are you one of them?
Could you be?