low-hanging-fruit

“It’s easy. I have not tried it yet. But if I do, I will succeed fast.”

Have you heard someone say this? I have. Heck, I have said it too.

In the corporate lingo, a quick reward is called ‘low-hanging fruit’. It’s an easy opportunity waiting to be milked. Little sweat, big reward.

My seniors used this many times in corporate meetings.

  • “Let’s build an app. Yes, there is a lot of competition. But there is lots of low-hanging fruit to be plucked.”
  • “We have never tapped into unknown markets. Surely a ton of low-hanging fruit is out there.”
  • “We’ve never launched a product like this. Imagine the amount of money” – low-hanging fruit – “we can make.”
  • “I’ve never tried something like that. But it’s easy. I can surely get quick results.” In other words, “I can get the low-hanging fruits.”

But results are far different. The problem, Jason Fried highlights, is that the notion of low-hanging fruit is flawed.

We assume that since we have never done something before, results will come quickly and easily. We overestimate our ability to achieve it. And when execution occurs, the results never match expectations.

Declaring that an unfamiliar task will yield low-hanging fruit almost always implies that you have little insight about what you’re about to do, Fried writes. Plus, you load expectations on colleagues and employees, assuming they will achieve them quickly. But you’re basically setting people up to fail. This leads to blame-games, deflated morale, and fear of trying something new.

This infographic will show how you can determine whether a task is a low-hanging fruit.

infographic low hanging fruit principle

Click on the image for a larger view

I’ve experienced this first hand. A few tasks that I expected to flow like melted butter turned out tougher than running a marathon. And because I assured team members that the tasks were ‘easy’, they were visibly demoralized at the end.

The next time you assume that a job will be a quick-win or a win-win, stop. Remind yourself that tasks are not as simple as you think; especially ones you haven’t tried. Results rarely come without effort. If luck favors you, results will come easily. But don’t forget that an unattempted task is never easy. If anything, it is bloody hard. Respect the job and work hard.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Vishal Kataria

    COMMENTS (7)

  1. Beloo Mehra

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    Hi Vishal, I know you write this post in the context of organisations, but the lesson here applies to our individual personal lives as well. That’s the deeper value of it, I think :) We often chase quick rewards, instant results because we have seen others getting successful at it, without fully appreciating or realising the hard work they might have put into it. It is this mindless craving only after the reward or quick success that makes us do many blunders in life – both personal and professional! Thanks for writing this post bringing up an important insight. The graphic is quite helpful!

    Reply

  2. Parul Thakur

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    In the office context, I completely agree with you. I have been told how things were low hanging but they weren’t.. If you are doing it for the first time, it needs time. An impact vs effort helps in such situations.
    Very well put, Vishal and the infographic is perfect.

    Reply

  3. MALINY

    ()

    I don’t work in a corporate sector, so I am hearing the term for the first time. But I could relate it so much to my personal forte as well, now that I realised what it stands for. I am visiting your blog for the first time, I believe. Have a Happy new year!

    Reply

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