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Shiny Object Syndrome

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Friday August 17, 2012 )

Sometimes I have problems articulating concepts in a few words, but a term I recently stumbled across, Shiny Object Syndrome, sums ups one of them nicely.

One of the great things in working as I do is that I can jump from project to project. Something isn’t working out? Dump it. Something very cool grabs my attention? Go for it.

However, I’ve also worked with or for folks who have the same sort of approach and discovered it can be frustrating when on the receiving end – particularly when I know the Next Big Thing they are chasing won’t be – or is really just A New Thing But Not Terribly Unlike The Old Thing We’re Already Doing Well.

This jumping from thing to thing is called the Shiny Object Syndrome. It can happen on a small scale (oooh.. new Dilbert strip, must stop writing this email and take a look) or bigger things – like stopping work on one trusty web site to work on another you have no idea as to whether it will work out.

The biggest influences for triggering the Shiny Object Syndrome when working for others I’ve found is other party’s good-mate-who-knows-a-bit-about-the-web or the outsourced Expert Consultant who has a uni degree; or the flashy article on an “authority” site with a few dozen likes.

The good mate is a dangerous creature and a uni degree doesn’t make an expert. Articles on strategy are sometimes just *theory*, or they contain really rubbery figures. For example, doing X boosting leads by 200% isn’t all that impressive if the base lead figure was 1.

Shiny Object Syndrome threatens just about everyone who works online as there are so many distractions and so many promises of striking it big.

Before chasing that glimmer, ask yourself what do you risk through the distraction. I agree to a degree with “no pain, no gain”, “no risk, no reward” and “fortune favours the brave” – but there is a difference between bravery and stupidity.

I’m still struggling to put my own advice into practice though :).


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