Tuesday, November 16, 2010

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

Yesterday, we talked about thinking about the effects of our work on the next biggest goal. When we work on the leaves, we must consider how they help the trees. When we work on the trees, we must consider how they help the forest.

Today an example of a leaf:

I have decided I want to host a brown-bag lunch for our engineering team, providing an overview of a new language I've been playing with.

This is a small thing. It's one lunch, probably an hour of everyone's time.

It's tempting to jump to the forest. How will one brown-bag lunch help the company's bottom line?

The short answer is: it doesn't.

One brown-bag lunch will do nothing at all for the company's earnings this quarter. Or next quarter. Or even next year.

However, one brown-bag lunch just might...
... inspire an attendee to write a little reporting prototype, just to play with the new app
which just might ...
... inspire a passing product manager to make that a new feature
which just might ...
... get the product a "most improved 2012!" writeup in a major industry magazine
which just might ...
... increase sales by 75% that quarter.

Now there's a lot of mights in there. It might not happen. But it might. And if we don't hold that brown bag lunch, then it definitely won't happen.

So our leaf - a brown bag lunch - has helped our tree - employee training. And because we helped our tree, we gave our forest a better chance.

Handle the leaf, and think about the tree. The forest will follow naturally from there.

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