We’ve all been there, right? Head down, focusing on our work. Then…
Something pretty, shiny, and really distracting.
Doesn’t have to be a precious metal. In fact, it often ISN’T a precious metal. A new tool, a piece of software. A tablet that, while not from the Mount of Olives, might as well be.
The next new thing – distracting you from the task at hand, which is probably the last next new thing.
Pretty crazy, right?
And often, in our haste to make noise, make a name for ourselves within an organization – or make some easy money – we’ll chase that new shiny object and completely abandon the old shiny object.
If I had a dime (preferably a one ounce silver coin) for every time I was pulled into a meeting and sat down with someone who wanted the shiny object just because it was the shiny object…
So, how do you avoid Shiny Object Syndrome? We don’t have all the answers…but, especially if you’re either (a) running a startup or (b) sitting inside corporate walls…here are three tips.
1. Zero in on one objective. There’s a guy who is semi-legendary in Internet Marketing circles named Paul Myers. He runs a service called TalkBizNews. His is one of those emails that, in all honesty, stops me in my tracks because it always has something good.
Friday, I got an email from Paul and it had this advice for zeroing in on one objective. Quick summary:
First, pick one thing that has a definite success metric to it. “I will sell 100 widgets.” “Finalize corporate policy guidebook.” Something with a yes/no answer at the end…Didja sell 100? Didja finalize the guidebook?
Next, set aside 30 minutes and brainstorm. Write down everything you could possibly do to make the answer to the question YES.
We did this. 30 Minutes while kid 3 was watching some programming on Friday night. (Bad parenting?) Great exercise. (Note: some of you can expect a phone call from Area 224 HQ.)
2. Ask: can we really afford this? It’s easy to deflect to a budgetary excuse: fiscal year starts in July, procurement needs to be involved, that sort of stuff.
The real question though is all that other stuff that comes with. The extra expense piled upon a “free” tool. (Or “FR*EE” or whatever the internet marketer people spell it as these days.)
Back in our U Sphere days – Dave’s version of getting an MBA – we once called on a college admission director and got him on the phone and said, basically, “We’re gonna give you free access to our service for one month so you can try it out.”
And the response, basically, was NO. Why? In retrospect, all the stuff that was on this guy’s desk made our Shiny Object just another thing he’d have to worry about. He had total control in this case – no budget issues, no procurement department.
But no time to invest, either.
3. Wait. At least a day. (In the case of anything produced by Apple, you can probably wait longer than that.) The shiny object, though, might tarnish after a few hours.
The newness will wear off: be it your Twitter Explosion Strategy or your Facebook 100,000 Fan Creamy Goodness Strategy.
(Neither of these are actual strategies, mind you. Tactics. Tools. Not Strategies.)
Shininess is often distracting, more expensive than you think, and temporary.
[NOTE: The photo above comes to us from the American Open Currency Standard, a past client of Area 224.]