Go For The Low Hanging Fruit!


As professionals, we are always looking for ways to improve the way we work. We encounter ideas and methods that we start to implement, but often we fail. Does this sound familiar to you? How should you avoid this? You should focus on implementing the changes that have the highest benefit versus effort ratio for you and your team, or as the title of this article puts it, the low hanging fruit. To facilitate this, we suggest the following steps: Make a change backlog, Find your low hanging fruit, Establish a raiding party, Establish a success story, Go to war, Celebrate! And Start over.

You are sitting in a large conference hall listening to Guru Gurusen. He's presenting the latest and coolest way to develop software: method Giggly. You are holding your cup of coffee tightly thinking: quot;If we could do it this way we could turn the Death March project around and deliver on time for once.quot; During the break, you talk to the other conference participants about Giggly; you all agree that this is IT. You talk to Guru and buy his book. On the plane home you flip through the book and make a mental promise to yourself that when you are back at work on Monday you will implement Giggly. You are caught in the excitement of the new method and the promises of a better workplace. Monday comes and you drive to work with your portable PC and the Giggly book. The book is placed on your desk and you start to arrange a meeting with your colleagues to get the Giggly ball rolling. Urug comes through the door and informs you that the pilot servers are down, and the customers are screaming murder. You and Urug head for the server room, only to be intercepted by Big Wig Numero Ono. He has had a brilliant idea during the week-end, and he needs you to start a project to implement the idea ASAP.

It's Friday. You are sitting in front of your desk shutting down your portable PC. You are going to be working this Sunday, too. On your way out, you pick up the papers you need to read from your desk and under the papers you see the Giggly book. Mentally you register another lost opportunity and another defeat.

Does this sound familiar to you? It does to me {sidebar id=1} and almost every professional I know. Pressed for time with everybody breathing down our backs, we tend to default back to the way we have always done things. We forget our good intentions to change and sacrifice long term improvement for perceived speed. Why? I guess there are a lot of reasons, but my prime suspects are:

  • It's comfortable and easy - no one will question you if you use the quot;oldquot; method.
  • You are stressed and tired - it takes effort and determination to change.
  • You try to eat the elephant in one piece by implementing an entire method at once - but organizations and people don't want to change, they have to be tricked.
  • You take on the organization as an individual - it takes quot;critical massquot; to change an organization.
  • You actually forget what you were supposed to do, it just kind of drowns in the daily tasks and deadlines. You need to constantly remind yourself.

How should you avoid these traps? You should focus on implementing the changes that have the highest benefit versus effort ratio for you and your team. We suggest the following steps:

  1. Make a Change Backlog
  2. Find the low hanging fruit
  3. Establish a raiding party
  4. Establish a success story
  5. Go to war
  6. Celebrate!
  7. Start over


1. Make a Change Backlog

As responsible professionals, we always try to structure and refine the way we work. This should also be true when we want to implement change in an organization or ourselves. We want to use a lightweight structure to make it very easy to work with.The first order of the day is to make a list (Change Backlog) with of activities, techniques, processes, etc. that each constitutes a change for your company and is something you want to do (see Table 1). It's important that the list



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