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Low-Hanging Fruit: 77 Eye-Opening Ways to Improve Productivity and Profits



Low-Hanging Fruit: 77 Eye-Opening Ways to Improve Productivity and Profits

Jeremy Eden, Terri Long

ISBN: 978-1-118-85792-2 March 2014 224 Pages


A straightforward, valuable guide to reduce effort and raise profits

Step inside any organization, even a very successful one, and you’ll probably find a lot of waste if you know where to look. From providing a feature that consumers don’t care about to exhausting efforts on tasks that only require adequate attention, there are countless areas where resources go down the drain. In Low-Hanging Fruit, Jeremy Eden and Terri Long provide seventy-seven of their most effective techniques for improvement, each drawn from their success working with major companies.

For more than twenty years, Jeremy Eden and Terri Long have helped companies of all sizes make millions by harvesting their low-hanging fruit. In this practical guide, Eden and Long share valuable, refreshing insights in entertaining chapters that get straight to the point. This book shows you how to smoothly shift your approach, your priorities, and your mindset to reveal the hidden potential in your organization. Whether you are a member of a small team or a global executive, you will learn how to identify and solve hidden problems, improve productivity, and increase profits.

Many people don’t realize that there are dozens of quick, easy, and affordable ways to make things better. Don’t buy into the myth that only some people have creative ideas. Typically, the people closest to the work (from the factory floor to the C-Suite) and the people closest to the customer know the best ways to improve business. We can pluck this “low-hanging fruit” every day to save time and money right away.

Need to grow your company’s earnings but don’t know where to find the low-hanging fruit? The answer is right in front of you, but harvesting it takes skill. Eden and Long show you seventy-seven clever ways to discover possibilities and make meaningful changes. Low-Hanging Fruit shows you how to easily improve your job satisfaction, your team’s performance, and your company’s earnings. 

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction Why Is Low-Hanging Fruit So Hard to Spot? xvii

Part 1 How To Uncover Low-Hanging Fruit: Seeing the Problem is Harder than Solving the Problem 1

Chapter 1 Put a Price Tag on Everything to Stop the Waste 5

Chapter 2 “Value Engineer” Your Products to Eliminate What Your Customers Won’t Pay For 7

Chapter 3 Ask “Why?” Five Times to See the Real Problem 9

Chapter 4 Ask, “How Do We Know That Is True?” 12

Chapter 5 You Need to Tag It to Bag It: Name a Problem to Help Everyone See It! 17

Chapter 6 Don’t Be Fooled by Misleading Metrics: Zero in on the Ugly and Rattle the Status Quo by Turning Metrics Upside Down 19

Chapter 7 The 80/20 Rule: Everyone Knows It, but Few Use It! 22

Chapter 8 Find Quick-and-Dirty Data to Get Refined Insights 24

Chapter 9 Benchmarking Is a Mistake 26

Chapter 10 Use Brainstorming in a New Way: To Find Problems, Not Solutions 28

Part 2 Now that you see it, Solve it! 29

Chapter 11 Ask the People Closest to the Work for Their Ideas 33

Chapter 12 Get Out of Your Offi ce and Go See for Yourself 36

Chapter 13 Stop Ignoring Your Introverts 38

Chapter 14 Turn Complaints into Collaboration: The Interdepartmental Job Swap 41

Chapter 15 Other People Have Great Ideas—Just Ask Your New Hires and Your Vendors! 43

Chapter 16 Does Your Customers’ Journey Take Them on a Road Full of Potholes? 47

Chapter 17 The Unintentional Squelch 50

Chapter 18 Stop Brainstorming to Find New Ideas That Move the Profi t Needle 52

Chapter 19 Making Problems Harder Can Make Finding Solutions Easier 54

Chapter 20 Use a Checklist—It Works for Fighter Pilots and Brain Surgeons, and It Will Work for You! 56

Chapter 21 Actually . . . Just Don’t Do It! 58

Chapter 22 Give People What They Need, Not What They Want 60

Chapter 23 Simplify 62

Chapter 24 Push Work Down to the Lowest-Paid Person Capable of Doing It 64

Chapter 25 Save a Bundle: Take Simple and Low Tech over Sexy and High Tech 66

Chapter 26 Save More than a Bundle: Go No Tech over Low Tech! 68

Chapter 27 Borrow Good Ideas 70

Chapter 28 Force People to Get Help 72

Part 3 Motivate your team to harvest low-hanging fruit 73

Chapter 29 Create an Idea-Based Budget 75

Chapter 30 The Five Surprising Words That Keep a Good Executive from Being Great: “I Want Everyone on Board” 77

Chapter 31 If You Want the Money, Spend the Time 79

Chapter 32 Executive Motivators That Demotivate Everyone Else 81

Chapter 33 The Corporate Imposter Syndrome: “The Better I Do, the Worse You’ll Think of Me” 82

Chapter 34 Improving the Company Should Be Everyone’s “Job One” 84

Chapter 35 Sweat the Small Stuff 86

Chapter 36 Rally the Troops 89

Chapter 37 Catch the Vision or Catch the Bus 94

Chapter 38 Eliminate Corporate Whac-A-Mole 96

Chapter 39 Beat the Competition by First Beating Your Teammates 98

Chapter 40 “Blame the Other Guy” Syndrome 100

Chapter 41 How Dimming the Lights Increases Productivity, and Why Paying Attention Pays Staggering Dividends 102

Chapter 42 Firings Can Boost Motivation 104

Part 4 One Company—It’s Not An Impossible Dream 107

Chapter 43 Form a Steering Committee to Make Sure the Left Hand Knows What the Right Hand Is Doing! 109

Chapter 44 “Pocket Fisherman,” Yes; “Pocket Veto,” No! 112

Chapter 45 Hold Collaboration Workshops 114

Chapter 46 The One Monthly Meeting You Must Hold 116

Chapter 47 Celebrate Good Times, Come On 117

Part 5 Decide and Deliver 119

Chapter 48 The Three Essential Parts of a GOOD Idea 123

Chapter 49 The Miracle of Deadlines 125

Chapter 50 For Big Results, Focus on Small Ideas 127

Chapter 51 Fight the War with the Army You Have, Not the One You Want 129

Chapter 52 Add to Your Army Only When Necessary 131

Chapter 53 Create an “Idea” Flight Plan That Coordinates Implementation 132

Chapter 54 The People Who Implement the Idea Should Help to Develop the Idea: Make Sure the Buy-In Is Built In 134

Part 6 Accountability: The Holy Grail! 137

Chapter 55 The Devil’s in the Details: Track Every Idea, Every Dollar, Every Month 139

Chapter 56 The Golden Rule: Withdraw and Replace 141

Chapter 57 Follow the Money All the Way to the Budget 142

Chapter 58 Don’t Let Someone Else Dictate the Value of the Ideas You Implement 144

Chapter 59 Want to Actually See the Earnings? Lock the Vault 146

Chapter 60 Track Your Position Plan 148

Chapter 61 It’s Not What You Start, It’s What You Finish 149

Chapter 62 ROI: Making the Investment Is Easy, Now Make Sure You Get the Return 151

Chapter 63 Learn from Your Mistakes: The After-Action Report 153

Part 7 Need more time? It’s easier to find than you think! 155

Chapter 64 “Everyone Is Entitled to Their Own Opinion, but Not Their Own Facts” 159

Chapter 65 Replace Agendas with Game Plans 161

Chapter 66 Ban Meeting Tourists 163

Chapter 67 Don’t Have a 60-Minute Meeting to Do 22 Minutes of Work 164

Chapter 68 Watch the Clock! 165

Chapter 69 Use Hard Starts, Not Just Hard Stops, for Your Meetings 166

Chapter 70 The Obligation to Dissent 167

Chapter 71 Talk More, E-Mail Less 170

Chapter 72 PowerPoint Kills 171

Chapter 73 Schedule a Little “Me” Time 173

Chapter 74 If You Feel Busy, Take on Even More Important Work 175

Chapter 75 Increase Your Return on Time 176

Chapter 76 In Order to Shine, Have Other People Do Your Work! 177

Chapter 77 Mom Should Have Said, “Don’t Always Do Your Best!” 178

You Can Find the Time—Now Use It Wisely! 180

Part 8 Win Over The Skeptics, Cynics, And Faint Of Heart! 183

Part 9 P.S. For our c-suite readers (and those aspiring to get there)! 191

And a Few More Thoughts for Everyone . . .: Fight Decision Fatigue 196

In Conclusion 199

“One of the top ten business books of 2014!”
—The Globe and Mail

“Their lively book distills what has worked for their Fortune 100 clients over the past 20 years. They knock over a few sacred cows along the way.”

“Here’s why you might need to forget what you know about teamwork, excelling, and tradition.” 
Fast Company

 “In ‘Low-Hanging Fruit: 77 Eye-Opening Ways to Improve Productivity and Profits,’ authors Terri Long and Jeremy Eden show how incremental but meaningful change boosts productivity and profit.”
Investor’s Business Daily

“CEOs are often far removed from the thousands of processes carried out every day across the complex organizations they lead, resulting in easy growth opportunities missed.”

“The 28 best business books of 2014.  Here is my list of books that will help you as an employee, as a manager and as a human.” 
Diane Berard, Les Affaires

“Eden and Long wisely present both the problems and solutions concisely and cleverly. Their eye-openers are definitely worth a second look—and they’ll help you find and harvest that low-hanging fruit to increase your company’s productivity and profits.”
Success Magazine

 “This is one of the most practical and immediately actionable guides for business leaders that I have ever seen.”
Skip Prichard, Leadership Insights

“Amazing new book” 
Olivia Paar-Rud, Quantum Business Insights

“Each chapter is written in a very entertaining way, so you can grasp it and put it right into practice.”
Financial Spectrum Radio with Bill Kearney

“Does it work? PNC Financial’s initial program generated more than 2,400 ideas worth $400 million annually. When it merged with National City, it applied the same process and found $2 billion in operating efficiencies.” 
Dallas Morning News

“You are not going to get bogged down in gobbledygook and confusion.  This book moves along and is highly educational, informational and entertaining.” 
Money Matters radio with Stu Taylor