Rema Farhan posted in

How to combat Shiny Object Syndrome


Fascination by shiny objects is not limited to magpies and children, as the reality of most businesses today is this: companies love to lap up new technologies. With organisations spearheading innovation and transformation, buying new toys seems like an exciting and surefire way to get there. However, there is a fine line between effectively leveraging new technologies and succumbing to Shiny Object Syndrome.

SOS, as it is aptly initialled, is a very real problem plaguing businesses today. When a new gadget/software/whatever emerges on the scene, it's like a starting pistol goes off and whoosh, companies are sprinting to buy it. However, this is technology we're talking about. There is always a new gadget/software/whatever. Therefore, businesses end up in a never-ending cycle of rolling out a new technology, before cutting it off to whoosh off for a different one.

While it's good (and recommended) to experiment, going for a hot new technology simply because it is a hot new technology can be detrimental to your business. Here are some reasons why:

  • It's expensive: Shiny Object Syndrome would perhaps have been better named as Shiny Object Addiction. Like many addictions, this weakness for new technologies can rack up big bills. It's not just the upfront cost either; the maintenance of these new technologies builds up overtime and can cost businesses hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a year.
  • It's confusing: these poor workforces. Only last month, they were being hyped up about x, and now they're being told to abandon it and get hyped up about y. Not only will they be unable to keep up, but it will also be super frustrating for them.
  • It impacts productivity: businesses lose hundreds of hours through stopping, scrapping, and starting projects. Businesses that are SOS sufferers simply cannot finish projects, meaning progress can never truly be made.

So, what's the message here? To go cold turkey? Impose a buying ban?

Not quite.

How to turn your syndrome into a strength

The excitement that comes with shiny objects is a good thing, and if leveraged well, can be a contributor to a pleasant company culture. Then, there's the obvious benefit that if you see a project through from start to finish, well, you may actually achieve what it is you set out to.

Firstly, begin with some self-assessment. Does your business suffer from SOS? If so, what processes are enabling it? What needs to be more stringent so as to help you resist the urge for a new purchase?

For many, it's as simple as keeping their eye on the prize, and ingraining that into their strategy. Companies should have strict steps in place to keep them from abandoning projects, including waiting for actual evidence that something isn't working, and trying to rectify it before buying a replacement.

If you do need to bring in a new technology, speak with your teams first. They will be able to advise on whether it is a worthy investment, or if perhaps you're a little too excited. If they do give you the green light, they will appreciate you coming to them first, and will then be likelier to share the excitement with you.