Case Studies


Workout Machines

Fitness centers have become a major industry with each new gym offering more and more sophisticated workout machines to attract more members. Walk into any modern facility and members can choose from a multitude of equipment including the “horizontal seated leg press,” the “lat pull down,” the “cable biceps bar,” or the “pec deck machine,” just to name a few.

All of these workout machines address a very specific muscle group, and a serious athlete needs to rely on an expert trainer to build a program that involves all the different machines, including the appropriate weight, duration and frequency. Of course, the member bears the cost of these sophisticated machines and the instruction on how to use them. But do they really need all of this equipment or can they achieve the same results with a simple barbell?  In other words, is this a form of decorating the fish?

Workout machines are effective and, in some instances, can provide training advantages.  But for the average gym member, a barbell can achieve most of the desired results. We tend to complicate muscle training by relying heavily on specialized equipment and training programs. This approach risks neglecting some important muscle groups and incurring unnecessary expense and training. A barbell, however, is a very simple tool that allows for different methods of strength training that naturally involve most of our main muscle groups.

Workout machines are sophisticated and attractive, but the additional benefits of these machines over a simple barbell are sometimes limited and potentially expensive. Relying too heavily on them is decorating the fish.



In 2015, the world produced 448 million tons of plastic — more than twice the amount made in 1998. Few people question the damage discarded plastic can cause the environment. Indeed, it takes up to 500 years for plastic in landfills to decompose, and it is estimated that 8,300 million metric tons of plastics have been produced to date.

Organizations all over the world have set goals to reduce the impact of plastic waste on the environment. Often the initiative of choice is a major recycling program, which at face value is a laudable, well-intentioned effort. Yet, after years of public awareness campaigns, incentives and different methods, only approximately nine percent of plastic has been recycled. Another 12 percent has been incinerated, and the remaining 79 percent of plastic went into landfills or the natural environment, such as oceans. Recycling, despite good intentions, is not moving the needle; it only decorates the fish.

The core problem is not finding a way to recycle more of our plastic waste.  Rather, the core problem is we are making, consuming and discarding too much plastic. Resources should be focused on reducing the amount of disposable plastic products we produce and manufacture reusable items that meet market need and encourage reuse rather than disposal.

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Going Digital

A government agency was struggling to manage all of its forms and customers were starting to complain. To solve the problem, the management team initially looked for a technology solution and was on the verge of purchasing an expensive IT program to manage all of its electronic forms. The allure of “going digital” with a new web solution was compelling. The new system promised to provide many features and functionality that would improve efficiency and bring order to the complex collection of forms customers had to navigate.

The management team, however, had second thoughts and decided to take a different approach that prioritized a simplicity mindset over more complexity and sophistication. The team began investigating deeper into what was causing issues that made them want to purchase an IT solution in the first place. They determined the core business problem was that customers simply could not access the forms they needed quickly and easily. There were too many forms, some duplicating the same purpose, many had confusing instructions or no instructions at all, and even when customers knew which form they needed, it was difficult and time consuming to find it. All of this caused the agency’s processes to take longer and the quality of their services to suffer.

The team determined that the new IT system wasn’t necessary. Instead, they comprehensively reviewed each form, with simplifying the processes as the chief priority. Because of their focus and effort, they were able to eliminate forms and information that were duplicative, transfer other forms into existing customer applications, and keep the rest of the forms in an easily accessible PDF format. By first defining the core problem the agency was trying to solve and prioritizing simplicity over a sophisticated, unnecessary IT program, the agency saved more than a million dollars while improving the customer experience.