Warning: This blog post is full of the term “low hanging fruit” and references and metaphors to someone harvesting or picking something off a tree. My apologies in advance.
As business lingo goes, the term low hanging fruit is by far one of the most commonly used terms in any business setting. I’ve lost count of how many meetings I’ve been in where someone says “let’s go after the low hanging fruit,” or “what’s the low hanging fruit and let’s build a strategy around it.” or “this is obviously the low hanging fruit.” Every time someone brings up low hanging fruit I cringe, I feel my stomach boiling, and I immediately lose interest in the meeting, and respect for the person who brought it up.
Here low hanging fruit is a business goal or objective that is easily obtainable, but organizations shouldn’t be “going after” low hanging fruit and should have had a system in place where the low hanging fruit is already being harvested to scale.
If low hanging fruit is so easy to obtain then why doesn’t the organization already have it. Why isn’t every piece of fruit that is easily attainable harvested?
For one, that low hanging fruit a person brings up to show they understand strategy and pretend like they know what they’re talking about isn’t low hanging after all. In fact it’s very difficult to obtain or worse not the low hanging fruit at all.
Second, and the tougher to accept, is that the organization responsible for harvesting the low hanging fruit is not as efficient or as capable as initially thought.
The best organizations and leaders understand their strengths and weaknesses and play to their strengths and fill in the gaps that are their weaknesses. Low hanging fruit should be in the strengths and if it’s not then there are glaring weaknesses that need to be overcome.
When it comes to defining a business strategy the low hanging fruit should not be brought up. To succeed in an ever competitive marketplace, organizations need to aim higher than the low hanging fruit. That’s how that organization will set itself apart.
If an organization is still attempting to go after the low hanging fruit, something else is wrong and the organization’s leaders need to fix the system. The organization hasn’t accurately defined their vision and goals, their target market, and their acquisition strategy.
Startups are consistently in this stage and that’s expected because by definition they’re a startup. Startups need time to fine tune their product and their approach. Startups have yet to define their low hanging fruit and that same objective may also be constantly changing.
Established organizations should never be in that position. The low hanging fruit should be in yesterday’s pie with the organization driving the trucks delivering the fruit. Let’s get away from constantly relying on the low hanging fruit to drive our business objectives. Let’s take risks and go after the more difficult objectives and step above the competition.