February 03, 2009

The Low Hanging Fruit Debate of 2009

Today in a training session that I was attending, the facilitator brought up the phrase "low hanging fruit."

Immediately, all heads snapped around to the back of the room, eyes fixed on one individual in particular. Almost in perfect synchronicity, this one person very vocally began to exclaim how great his dislike of this phrase actually is. Of course, we already know that he hates that phrase, which is exactly why we so eagerly anticipated his response.

He makes the argument that low hanging fruit implies that we are going for the easy solutions first, without tackling the issues that are of real substance. It takes more effort to climb a tree to get to the fruit at the top, but if you can figure out how to make your way up there, the fruit has a better chance of not being impacted by insects and other elements. I can see his thought process here, and don't totally disagree. Sometimes we tend to solve the easy stuff first, which makes things better, at least temporarily. The thought is that we will eventually get all of the low hanging fruit out of the way, and then we will be in a better position to go after the stuff that is still out of reach. Unfortunately, there seems to be an unending supply of low hanging fruit.

However, the facilitator made a great point as well. Getting a few early successes out of the way can substantially increase morale. Also, low hanging fruit tends to imply that we already have what we need to address the issues. Less energy, time, and resources are expended to get a result, even if the gain is minimal.

As I listened to this debate continue, I started to think about something. Going after the fruit at the top of the tree requires energy. If you wanted to get to the top of the tree, you had better be prepared to climb. Part of being prepared includes being well nourished, especially for an activity such as climbing a tree. So, why not eat the low hanging fruit to prepare yourself for the climb?

There might be some merit to this, even as it pertains to our personal development and growth as well.

Then again, maybe I am just hungry and want to take the easy way out.

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