Julie noted some of the risks that are associated with focusing on the Low
fruit. These are good ideas. I would like to add another that IMHO
should be considered. This applies more to the completion of projects
that will result in a change to the organziation rather than an
* Those who are "doing" the picking may find the "politics" of the
situation cause them pain and the organization does not get the benefits
from the changes.
It is my observation that there are some senior "sponsors" of a project
who stick around for the glory and recognition of a successful harvest -
of the low hanging fruit. He/she then tells the world that s/he must go
on to another project - one with more "low hanging fruit", no doubt.
When the "grunts" go back to pick the fruit at the top they discover it is
much more difficult to accomplish. Especially since the senior sponsor is
gone and usually no replacement is in sight ( potential candidates, know
at least enough to see the risks to their career - those who don't are
probably too senior with insufficient time, or too unaware to be helpful).
The challenges of picking the higher fruit are only known to those who are
up on the end of the ladder where the branches are thin and wavering and
the wind is blowing. There is definitely an exponential relationship
between compexity / risk of failure and height from the ground. Those on
the ground, or back in the farm house, especially if they have never
"picked fruit", see incompetent staff who have empty baskets - not like
The higher fruit doesn't get picked!
The previous sponsor goes on to say - "well they got things done when I
was there . . . just goes to show how critical I was to their success.
Really the earlier success was because of me. I really think those
pickers should go somewhere else where the challenges aren't as great as
One of the challenges in picking fruit (i.e.changing job and organization
design, changing business processes, developing or implementing computer
systems) is to ensure the right people are on board, and the relationships
include committment, trust and integrity, and communication is high. Not
easy to do, but must be given serious attention.
The picking and the harvesting must be mapped out for the picking of all
the fruit. Managing must be done with the long term view. The decision
about what fruit will be picked when should be made with consideration of
maintaining the support of critical stakeholders including the senior
sponsor. If you know s/he is there for the long term, lucky you. If
there is some question about his/her committment be careful that you don't
just give him/her what is needed for the next step in their career and
leave the "grunts" feeling a little flat with a footprint on their head
and an empty basket in their hand.
Don Siddall Management Consultant City of Toronto, City Hall, Toronto, Canada M5H 2N2 email@example.com Tel: (416) 392-0443 Fax: (416) 691-7424
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