Are problems re-occurring in your business time after time?

At NewLeaf International we pride ourselves on providing solutions for our clients based on a variety of influences including our worldwide experience of Organisational Development.

One of those influences is the late Stephen Covey, the great management guru, who has influenced us in much of our style and content when supporting clients.


In this post we have reinforced some of that style and content that has helped businesses eliminate re-occurring problems forever.

“I’ve taken course after course on effective management training. I expect a lot out of my employees and I work hard to be friendly toward them and to treat them right. But I don’t feel any loyalty from them. I think if I were home sick for a day, they’d spend most of their time gabbing at the water fountain. Why can’t I train them to be independent and responsible – or find employees who can be?”

(Quote from The 7 Habits of highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey)

Does this sound familiar?

At NewLeaf International we hear and see this often and it reminds us to look beyond the actual words and behaviour and seek out the root cause that drives the behaviours.

We know in nearly every case, that getting to the root cause is looking at the “work system” within the organisation. We know that the work system whether well-defined or not (Hard or Soft) is driving behaviour.

We agree with the principles of The 7 Habits of highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey and refer to them to help us facilitate clients through work system improvements.

Below is a collection of thoughts from The 7 Habits of highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey


People are intrigued when they see good things happening in organisations that are based on solid principles. They admire such teamwork, adaptive synergistic organisational culture.

And their immediate request is very revealing of their basic paradigm. “How do you do it? Teach me the techniques” what they are really saying is “Give me some quick fix advice or solution that will relieve the pain in my own situation”

Sure, you may find something that works for a short time, something that takes away some of the cosmetic or acute problems. But, the underlying chronic problem remains. This approach can contribute to the underlying problem.

You could spend years and years and thousands and thousands on trying to change attitudes and behaviours and only ever see small improvements.


However, if we want to make significant, transformational change, we need to work on something else…

Hacking at the leaves is misplaced energy. Working on the attitudes and behaviours of a problem (or you could say the symptom of your pain) is only ever, at best, as good as sticking a plaster over it. The leaves will grow back and sometimes bigger and more stubborn.


Look beyond the visible effects and ask yourself ‘why?’. ‘Why is this happening?


The Simple Five Whys Model...

Invented in the 1930’s by Toyota Founder Kiichiro Toyoda’s father Sakichi, the 5 Whys strategy involves looking at any problem and asking: “Why?” and “What caused this problem?” 



Take 5 minutes now to see how this works. Print off the diagram below and write down an issue that you are having.  


You will immediately begin to see that there are other reasons connected to your frustration. Probably reasons you didn’t expect. Probably a process reason.

It will become apparent how the standards and culture within the business are paramount to making a transformation in business performance.



Francesca Holder, Director, NewLeaf International Ltd

Tel: 01905 425209