Monday, November 15, 2010

The Forest, The Trees, and the Leaves: Part I

What's that old saying: "You can't see the forest for the trees"?

The truth is, we have to see the forest sometimes; sometimes we really need to be looking at the trees; and sometimes the leaves are the targets of our investigation.

If we consider that the smallest unit of work we can do, that is a leaf. A test session is a leaf. A bug verified is a leaf. A

The forest is what we commonly call "vision". The forest is the vision of the company and the ultimate goal: to make money for shareholders. When we look at the forest, we are attempting to directly answer the question, "What will X do to make money for the company?"

The trees are the in-between. The trees are the sum of our actions that together provide value for the business, and indirectly affect the company's vision. Often, we call the tree "strategy", and in a medium way it is. Employee training is a tree. Brand identity is also a tree. Customer service is a tree, too. Quality of product is a tree. There are many trees.

The leaves service the trees, the trees make up the forest. We don't ask what the leaf does for the forest; we ask what the leaf does for the tree. We ask what the tree does for the forest.

We often hear: "Don't do something unless it helps the company." I offer a corollary: "Consider how this helps the next biggest thing."

Over the next few days we'll talk about examples of considering the next biggest thing.

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