Low-Hanging Fruit

Summary Written by Erin Gordon
"Brainstorming is like a food fight; problem solving is like a master cooking class."

- Low-Hanging Fruit, page 53

The Big Idea

Big Things Come in Small Packages

"I don't look to jump over 7 foot bars. I look around for 1 foot bars that I can step over."- Warren Buffet, as quoted in Low-Hanging Fruit, page xx

Looking for that one, magnificent, once in a life time opportunity that is going to catapult your organization to Apple-like success is pretty hard to find. However, identifying smaller, more manageable, everyday opportunities is a million times easier. Think of it like walking along the same path every day with your six year old to school. I just bet that everyday something new catches your child’s attention. Week by week and month by month, the two of you find new things along the path to talk about. As the school year progresses from start to finish, I also suspect the time you take to get there may have become a little less. Was that a shortcut you just found?

Insight #1

Losing sight of the forest for all the trees

"As he [Eisenhower] said 'What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important."- Low-Hanging Fruit, page 156

How often do you arrive at the office and become lost in your inbox or pulled into your third meeting on a project that isn’t going anywhere quickly, never really accomplishing what you set out to do that day? I am embarrassed to say I can count the times more often than I would like. Eden and Long provide a very disheartening statistic: Most, not some, not a few, executives spend at least 25 percent of their time on activities they feel are urgent, but that they recognize may not be important to growing the business. Ouch! Fortunately, the authors offer the reader a few suggestions to reduce that percentage just a little. My favorite is to replace agendas with game plans! Game plans require us to plan ahead, understand the critical actions that need to occur within the meeting and walk away with clear next steps. Game plans also dictate just exactly how much time we should be spending on each agenda item. My second, almost tied with my first favorite: Ban meeting tourists!! If they can’t help you solve the problem, what are they doing in the meeting? They are just like that red sand in your suitcase – taking up space and getting in the way.

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Insight #2

Stuck between a rock and a hard place?

"If you feel busy, take on even more important work."- Low-Hanging Fruit, page 175

Yep. You did read that correctly! Remember what it feels like when you are wrapping up things at work before heading out of the office for a two week vacation on a deserted beach – with no cell service? It is absolutely amazing how quickly tasks that seemed important two weeks ago no longer make it on the list. Our authors call it the “Squeeze Play”. Truly important, drive your business forward work will squeeze out urgent but unimportant work. Fancy that. If you do decide to pick up this book, check out Chapter 77: Mom Should Have Said, “Don’t Always Do Your Best!” Have you ever spent more time than was needed on a project? Yes, the work was outstanding, but chances are the extra few hours of effort you put forward didn’t change the outcome. Ask yourself this question – am I providing more value than my customer (boss, colleague, spouse… nope. That was one step too far! Scratch that one from the list) is willing to pay (time, dollars or resources) for? Last quote, I promise: “While you are doing the best job unnecessarily, an important task needs you!”

There really are 77 ideas in this book and every single one of them is actionable. Some ideas are new and innovative, but equally as many are just common sense and lying in wait right in front of our eyes. I think the authors may have referred to these ideas as eye opening because we likely take many of them for granted. However, if you are looking for a turnkey, step by step manual, reader be warned. These are just ideas—you need to provide the context and bring these ideas to life.

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Jeremy Eden

Jeremy attended Yale College and Yale School of Management where he is on the Advisory Board. As a McKinsey & Co. consultant, Jeremy served clients such as Goldman Sachs, Hilton Hotels and Travelers Insurance. Jeremy then left to develop what is now the Harvest Earnings innovative Idea Harvest process.

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