Have you heard of the `Shiny Object Syndrome’ that plagues organisations worldwide today?
Do you ever open a folder on your PC to retrieve an urgent document, but then promptly forget about it as you encounter another file? Have you ever gone into the kitchen to fetch a knife and been distracted by the sight of a bag of potato chips? It is common to get diverted by the many attractive objects in one’s path; the lure has been called `Shiny Object Syndrome’ (SOS) and has assumed importance in the corporate environments of today . Adopting and integrating every new object that one comes across can create chaos and a lack of focus on what really matters.
Pinkesh Shah, director of programs, Institute of Product Leadership, explains, “Be it the ability to prototype a product in your garage or spread the word about your product to a billion people using social platforms, the evolving landscape of technology today has allowed ideas to materialise at a faster pace than ever before. This has created a situation where there is a rush to innovate and enter the market and the skills required to succeed in that space need to be in an applied form. Also, business models and infrastructure have changed.”
However, trying to make use of every new `shiny object’ for one’s benefit can have a negative impact on business. Jackie Harder, president, Key Dynamics Coaching and Consulting Inc, elaborates, “Distractions are a major productivity-killer, and trying to be an early adopter of every piece of new technology that comes along can be a prescription for disaster. Always remember that every new `shiny object’ carries with it a learning curve, cost of hardwaresoftware and a time-consuming implementation. The pros and cons of new ideas and technologies need to be carefully weighed against the organisation’s goals. To prevent being left behind, organisations should have at least one person dedicated to researching the new `shiny objects’ to see if and how they are applicable and to make recommendations to management.“
Rohit Aggarwal, CEO, Koenig Solutions, tells us how the process of analysing whether the new technology should receive the organisation’s focus or not is not always simple: Reality is a myth; business acumen is to have a close perception of reality as it truly is and take important decisions after considering all the facts without letting emotions rule; We suffer from `confirmation bias’ (giving importance to only those facts which confirm our visceral conclusion) and `availability bias’ (conclusions based upon easily availablerecallable information; Some ways to over come these issues include utilising as much in formation as possible, involving many stakeholders in taking a decision and experimenting with the idea’s feasibility on a small scale.
Venkatesh Umashankar, professor marketing, Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon, says that the syndrome is also rampant in workplaces at a micro level, wherein employees face constant distractions.
The syndrome is especially relevant for start-ups and small businesses that are still defining their strategies and understanding their stronghold in the market. Pamela Wigglesworth, MD, Experiential Hands-on Learning and author of Public Relations; Small Business Acceleration: Get Noticed using Facebook, LinkedIn, Email Marketing, Public Relations and Video Marketing, elaborates, “There are minuses to the easy access of knowledge that the Internet and technology provides. It is easy for start-ups or established small business owners to catch SOS. While I applaud the business owner who is eager to leverage new ideas to elevate hisher business, it is important to find two or three key tactics and techniques to focus upon.
Begin with tactics that you can test, measure and implement one at a time; do more of what is working and drop what is not. Continue to keep your eyes and ears open for new technologies and ideas, but avoid buying into the notion that you must do everything that comes to you in your inbox.”
Hence, employees and or ganisations need to be wary of the SOS and analyse what each new object brings to the table.