Does Low-Hanging Fruit Exist?

Posted by amy.

Photo by Lotte Löhr on Unsplash

“First, we will go after the ­low-hanging fruit.” We have all heard that comment and it makes my hair catch on fire. It is a big mistake. Do not go there. Looking for that fruit is a false hope.

Low-hanging fruit does not exist. If it ever existed, it was picked long ago. The mention of ­low-hanging fruit conjures up images of apples hanging down at eye level screaming, “Pick me, pick me!” The expectation that there are easy ways to make things change leads to disappointment when we run through the proverbial orchard and find no fruit.

Going after low­-hanging fruit implies which things we should do first. That is, pick the fruit that is easiest to reach. Bad approach. Most often, the first things that must be done are the most difficult.

Ask any fruit picker about ­low-hanging fruit. The picker will point out that the fruit at the top of the tree is ripe first and more plentiful. The return for the effort is at the top of the tree.

Selecting easy targets that require no effort reflects what we all want the world to be like. Picking a few low­-hanging things may get things started but won’t amount to much. Unless you live in an orchard, your encounters with low­-hanging fruit won’t actually come very often.

Low-hanging fruit may be appealing and easy, but it may not be the right thing to talk about or pursue. Ask Adam how it worked out for him with that ­low-hanging apple.

Where Is Your Road Map Taking You?

Posted by amy.

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

There is that nagging question that comes up every day, “What’s the PLAN?” It conjures up guilt and questions about ­self-worth. Plans come by many ­names—it could be called the strategy, it could be the plain old bud-get, or it could be called something exotic like “the Five Pillars to Success.” My favorite name is the ROAD MAP.

The world demands it. Your boss requires it. Your spouse wonders about it. You need a plan.

Those of you who take public transit to work are lucky. You are not clicking through the radio trying to understand where the traffic problems are every day. The rest of us probably spend too much time in the car, which raises the question, how do we use that time?

FM radio is okay but I am sick of most of the songs since I am stuck in my car listening to FM radio. Texting is never an option. Talk radio can be okay, but it seems too loud and shrill for the morning.Here is an idea: on the way to work, while in your car, plan your day. On the way home from work, reflect on the day. Each day, use that commute time a little more productively. It might help you be more effective and get a raise. And then, you can get a better car for commuting.

There will be lots of meetings in December where we plot out the plan for the new year. There will be flip charts and markers and yellow stickies and breakout groups and facilitators in conference rooms and hotels all over the country.

And the first topic of conversation over coffee and muffins will be, “Do we need a mission statement?”

The response will be, “No, I think we need a vision.”

And the third comment will be the question, “What is the difference between a vision and a mission?”

That discussion will go until lunchtime with no clear resolution.

Aaaargh.

The three things we all want to know at work are: what’s my job, how am I doing, and how does my effort make us more successful?

A little time on those questions might be more productive than a framed vision statement on the wall.

A roadmap should tell you how to get to where you want to go and the stops along the way. The corporate roadmap, of course, assumes you know where you are going, which is not always the case.

The problem with so many corporate roadmaps is that they are too complicated so no one pays any attention to them.

I think there is a lot to be learned from my favorite road ­map—the kids’ game Chutes and Ladders. Just like work, the game is all about rewards and consequences. With good deeds, you climb, and for misbehavior, you go down chutes. Plus, in the game, you know where you are and you can see the end.

Need a good road map? Just look in the toy bin, then implement it.

Three Sad Letters You Should Stay Away From In The Workplace

Posted by amy.

Acronyms have created a new language, and we all speak that new language. Some letter phrases are so widely held that we use them in speaking. Phrases like LOL, FYI, BTW are second nature.

Others are not as widely used, like @TEOTD (At the End of the Day) or YKWYCD (You Know What You Can Do), but even those are creeping into the language.

Each one captures a sentiment in a few letters that are both direct and efficient. And somehow the group of letters doesn’t seem as bad as the hack-neyed buzzwords. Twitter and the constant barrage of instant messages have helped create the new language. It is ever expanding and here to stay AFAIK (As Far As I Know).

But there is one rarely used three­-letter designation that can kill a career. Sometimes it is not used explicitly but it is always there, lurking in conference rooms and project plans. The worst three letters in business that can be assigned to your name are: D N F.

DNF stands for DID NOT FINISH. Anyone who ever enters a race knows those three unfortunate letters. Whether the race is running, swimming, bike riding, or Formula One racing, it doesn’t matter. When the results are posted, DNF next to your name means you started something but didn’t finish.

And in a race, just like any project, one either finishes or does not. Swimming halfway across the English Channel doesn’t count as swimming across the English Channel. It means DNF, Did Not Finish.

At the office, the DNF letters may not be placed next to any name. But the label exists. The DNF label means you start things and that is as far as you got.

It means you are good at thinking but not at doing. It probably means no one wants to work with you and it could mean you will be out of a job. You may think others don’t notice or that it is NBD (No Big Deal). It is a big deal and should be avoided.

Don’t be caught in the DNF box. It’s more important to tackle projects that you know you can finish than it is to start huge projects that everyone knows will never be completed. The BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) can be tempting but don’t make the goal so hairy that it will never be achieved.

Sometimes you don’t have a choice of assignments but always avoid the dreaded DNF label. Crossing the finish line is a very good feeling.

GFN (Gone for Now).