It refers to the easiest tasks or the activities that require little effort or planning. It ignores whether those activities bring any real value to the company. It’s an obvious analogy to an orchard where collecting the fruit on lower branches is relatively easy, while fruit higher up the tree will require climbing or a ladder. Of course, to extend the analogy, the fruit higher up the tree might be all the sweeter.
It’s also not a helpful long term strategy as one friend pointed out;
We were heavy on the “low-hanging fruit” in this organization about a year ago, but unfortunately it’s now been picked clean and we’re stuck with actually having to work.
It’s a term I used to hear quite often when I worked in HR, I don’t hear it so often now that I’m communications/IT. Maybe we just don’t have any low-hanging fruit in IT.