The Well: An 80/20 Analysis

Pareto Analysis is a statistical technique in decision-making used for the selection of a limited number of tasks that produce significant overall effect. It uses the Pareto Principle (also known as the 80/20 rule) the idea that by doing 20% of the work you can generate 80% of the benefit of doing the entire job. The core message of the 80/20 rule or Pareto Principle is that most things we do are largely irrelevant and the “vital few” have a most of the  impact on our lives. Performing an 80/20 analysis has been an invaluable tool as we discern where to cut and where to invest in our work moving forward.


One feature of the work that we do is the challenge of quantification. While we can count the number of visits each day in our Family Room, the number of pounds of groceries shared from our Free Market, or how many bikes were built in the ReCycle Bin, these numbers are useful and also limited in usefulness. You might say that these are measures of outputs. Outputs are worth measuring in that we can quantify the volume and value of resources provided to the community. They do not however reveal outcomes. Outcomes are the results in the community itself. The answer to the “So what?” question that might follow a statement about our output of food or clothing. Outcomes have always been a challenge to measure in work like ours and often we find that it is stories which best reveal outcomes through anecdotal means.


As we survey the work done over the last few years we must use discernment to analyse outcomes. We have no means of tracking personal transformation, an increased sense of self-worth, or empowerment in any solidly numerical way. We do, however, have a strong sense of what has bore fruit among us.


Some of the following questions have been useful as we have sought out what piece of our work is producing the lion’s share of impact among our community.

  • What have we done that has been the most empowering to our friends and neighbors?
  • What has resulted in the most people taking ownership of the work itself?
  • What has produced the most most tangible value as a resource to our neighbors?
  • What has produced the most transferable skill or value from one guest to another?


The resounding answer, in just about every lense we used, was the ReCycle Bin bike shop. We have seen so many come in need of transportation and have been so happy to be able to point them to our bike shop. They might arrive hoping to be given a bike only to find that they must volunteer in the shop for a certain number of hours to ‘Earn a Bike’ and then build/fix a bike for themselves. Many who built their own bike with tools and instructions available in the shop would keep coming back to coach others through the process as well. In time the shop was almost completely run by neighbors who had originally come in to get a bike for themselves and in time and through continued participation, took ownership of the work and the shop itself. A beautiful community arose out of the shared work. A family of men and women you might see riding around Tampa in a group ride, affectionately referring to themselves as ‘The Well’s Angels.’


The shop started, almost by accident. Just one volunteer who rode bikes helping a neighbor with theirs. Little by little this flame was fanned and the initiative snow-balled. What seemed like just another piece of a buffet of initiatives offering food, transportation, hair-cuts, clothing, or showers, emerged as a strategic place to invest moving forward.


Our analysis of the work done and the services offered over the last several years has convinced us that a bike shop is the most leverageable of our assets. We now have a constant stream of bikes that might otherwise end up in a landfill headed our way. We have a team of folks that have become pretty decent bike mechanics that we plan to get certified. We have tools, a team, and a reputation.


We will be reallocating our use of resources moving forward to prioritize this initiative. The plan is to build a more robust non-profit bicycle shop that will sell refurbished bikes, offer a community work station, sliding scale repairs, an Earn-a-bike program, as well as hosting regular community rides for all to join.


Enter Well Built Bikes!

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