Find the Invisible Low Hanging Fruit

When I first got into the quality improvement movement in 1990, our Florida Power and Light consultants always spoke about "low hanging" fruit just waiting to be plucked.

Two years later and tens of thousands of staff hours later, we still hadn't found any low hanging fruit.

In any company, if there really is low hanging fruit, it's usually visible from everywhere from the factory floor to the management conference room. When it's that visible, anyone can pluck it with a little common sense and a bit of trial and error.

That's why in most companies there is no visible low hanging fruit. 
Somebody has already plucked it!
And this is what stops most leaders from even considering the tools of Six Sigma…they can't see anymore fruit to be plucked.

But in company after company, my own included, I have found orchards filled with low hanging, INVISIBLE fruit. You just can't see it with the naked eye.

You can, however, discern it through the magnifying lens of line graphs and pareto charts. They make the seemingly invisible, visible. They are the microscope, the MRI, the EKG of business diagnosis.

When Louis Pasteur said that there were tiny bugs in air and in the water, everyone thought he was crazy because they weren't visible…to the naked eye. Everyone thought it was just an "ill wind" that made people sick.

In today's tough economic times, everyone laments about how hard it is. How an "ill wind" has blown through their business, their industry, their economy. But have they considered using the modern tools of business medicine to root out the infectious agents in their business? Have they taken the time to look for the "invisible" low hanging fruit in their business? I doubt it.

Someone sent me an email today that said that even in the poorest run companies, he'd had no luck finding the low hanging fruit. But in every company I've ever worked with, I've found orchards of low hanging invisible fruit…millions of dollars just waiting to be retrieved from the caldrons of defects and delay.

Are you looking for the obvious? Or investigating the invisible?

The low hanging fruit is always invisible to the naked eye. Turn the magnifying and illuminating tools of Six Sigma on your most difficult operational problems, and stare into the depths of the unknown, the unfamiliar. You'll invariably find bushels of bucks, just waiting for a vigilant harvester.

Rights to reprint this article in company periodicals is freely given with the inclusion of the following tag line: "© 2008 Jay Arthur, the KnowWare® Man, (888) 468-1537,"

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