There is an old children’s story about someone who asks “Who will help me make my bread?” No one helps. No one helps plant the wheat, harvest the wheat, mill the wheat, make the dough, or bake it. But at the end when it is asked who will help eat the bread everyone comes running to “help”!

As a parable it’s classic, and true. In every organization there are those that do the ‘grunt’ work needed to keep the group functioning, even advancing, and those who barely lift a finger. I have been involved with clubs and organizations for over 30 years and have seen it in all of them. Everyone says they are gung-ho but when it comes to actually committing the time and energy (and Heaven-for-bid the money) to doing something, their will fades faster than a winter setting sun.

The “Pareto Principle” – also known as the 80/20 rule  or “vital few and trivial many”– was first postulated in 1906 by the Italian management consultant Joseph M. Juran.  The name “Pareto” is for the Italian engineer, economist and philosopher Vilfredo Paret.

In terms of group efforts and accomplishments, the 80/20 rule says that 80% of the work is done by only 20% of the people in a group. (I have also seen it called the 90/10 rule for the same reasons.) In more direct terms of a survival group this translates to the reality that a true democratic process and division of labor is most likely not going to work, either in the prepping of the group or in the aftermath of an SHTF event. In both cases it is more likely that someone or a small cadre of people will be the lead driving force behind the group. But more than merely set the vision and direction for the group they will do the bulk of the leg work in the group.

There are various suggested techniques for trying to motivate and inspire people to step up and do more. But while that may be PC philosophy for a business or social organization, a survival group is neither. Everyone must carry their weight. This is where carefully choosing who to have in your group is essential. And that will take time to get to know someone. Even if you only include immediate family and very very close friends do so with eyes wide open. Everyone has some negative to their personality and demeanor.  And the reality is that if someone in your group isn’t doing their share you need to have some mechanism for approaching them, pointing out where you see them deficient, and if they don’t improve you need some way of removing them from the group.

Keeping people involved and motivated, regardless of what first brought them together, is a challenge. If you live in an area frequented by natural disasters (e.g. floods, hurricanes, tornados, blizzards) the events are usual, perhaps even frequent, and very real. But if your preparations are for the unusual and infrequent events such as an economic calamity it is more ethereal and therefore harder to quantify in the minds of people even if they are preppers.

However, nothing in life is that black&white. Someone who doesn’t seem to be “pull their weight” may not necessarily be as bad as it seems if that person provides some other material gains to the group such as land or access to very cheap supplies or a lot of financing for the group, etc. Or perhaps some very useful knowledge such as a doctor. That isn’t a free pass for the Life of Riley at the expense of others but might be a mitigating circumstance. It’s still an uneasy situation. People will see someone not working (laboring) has hard as they and in the longer run will cause friction in the group.

Nevertheless, be it a sports club or a survival group, the fact remains that someone people do have a greater motivation than others for the goals of the organization. This motivation drives them to put in more effort than others. A 100% pure division of labor isn’t realistic, nor is a 100% democratic structure. The goal is vigilance such that all members of the group put in the bets of their abilities to the ultimate goals of the group.

If/when a disaster happens there can be no free lunches.