The NewLeaf International Principles of Transformational Change Part 9

Keep it Simple and Pitch Solutions at the Right Level.

Everyone knows the expression “Keep It Simple”, but in fact it’s one of the hardest things to do in large organisations.

We’ve met many people that resist a simple solution because they feel they need to justify their role in the business, but in fact in most cases, “keeping it simple is a very clever thing to do!”

When working in teams the culture can manifest itself into a “Committee Based” mentality where everybody needs a view and opinion and by that act, creates complexity. In reality in most cases it just needed someone to say “this is what we need to do” thus, keeping it simple.

In organisations there are a multitude of issues. If you break these down into four groups you will already start to simplify the complexity that can be seen within business.

The four levels are;

  • Level 1. Simple problem-solving tools and techniques required
  • Level 2. More structured problem solving approach required
  • Level 3. The charted team formed with regular structured problem solving techniques usually an organisation involvement.
  • Level 4. No structured action required or just go and do it. Not everything needs to be fixed or have a structured approach!

One of the characteristics we often see in business is a lack of simple assessment to ensure that a solution is pitched at the right level, for example the approach required in level 2 and level 3 is too often used, when actually some simple brainstorming would solve the problem. Complexity is added because intelligent people subconsciously over process something!


The diagram below is one we use to show where we would pitch appropriate levels of activity within an organisation.

The apple tree illustrates operational problems in a business, where the apples represent problems and those problems are at different levels or “heights in the tree.”

So the apples at the top of the tree are much harder to reach (fix) and these require a more structured approach to solve. The right-hand side of the diagram indicates 6 Sigma tools and techniques and levels of problem solving ability in line with the apples.

So, we are suggesting that Black Belt 6 Sigma Projects and tools and techniques are required for the hardest problems only and to indicate the hardest problems on the left hand side of the diagram, there is a scale that indicates the efficiency of the organisation regardless of whether it’s a manufacturing company, service provider or other. The constant is still the same. It’s showing the level of efficiency at delivering what the organisation is meant to! So, in this example, Black Belt activity should be used when an organisation is fixing complex problems and is already around 75+% efficiency.

What happens in reality is the complexity required at Black Belt level is used for problems that are much simpler to solve. Also, the organisation isn’t really at 75+% efficiency it is more likely to be <50%! This means the day-to-day problems that are creating issues for the majority of people aren’t getting addressed because potential solutions are being pitched too high and losses their impact.

Clients we work with, have problems at all levels, whether highly complex issues or simple fixes. We encourage managers to direct people to work on simple things first and these are often issues that are irritating most of the employees most of the time. This way the efficiency of the business can shift from 50% efficiency to 70+% and above in a structured incremental manner.

If you would like to discuss more about pitching problems at the right level and getting the maximum out of improvement initiatives please contact us;

Tel: 01905 425209


Martin Gummery, Managing Director, NewLeaf International Ltd