Note: One of my core beliefs as consultant is that much too many corporations, agencies, and media carry ADHD! What do you think?
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(to license this cartoon, click here)
ADHD isn’t just for teenagers. It afflicts businesses and teams too. I once heard a venture capitalist offer to prescribe Ritalin to one of his portfolio companies.
It’s easy to get distracted by the Shiny New Thing. It’s particularly easy to get distracted when the going gets tough on your core plan and energy starts to wane. Whether it’s a new technology, a new product, or a new customer, falling in love with the Shiny New Thing can take a team off course. It’s easy to get enthusiastic about the promise of something new than the hard slog of what you’re already doing.
Ted Simon calls this Shiny New Object Syndrome (particularly common with social media): “In this headlong rush of confusing a tactic with a strategy, organizations waste time, energy, resources chasing a “shiny new object.” By skipping these questions the organization can find itself distracted from its main goal and/or mission.”
That’s not to say that teams should be inflexible and wear blinders to opportunities that come up mid-stream. Being adaptable to new opportunities is important. But don’t lose sight of the main goal.
Dharmesh Shah writes a great advice post for entrepreneurs in particular:
To really succeed and get things done, you’re going to need to stick to something and get the basic machinery “working” and plug away at it. Good ideas take time. Great ideas take even more time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting you be stubborn about your idea, business model, product, whatever. Far from it. I’m a big fan of the agile approach to startups. But, there’s a difference between iterating on an existing thing and being distracted by a Shiny New Thing.
So, here’s my advice to you the next time you see the Shiny New Thing bug buzzing around your head as you’re trying to get real work done. Ask yourself the following 4 questions:
1. Am I simply intrigued by the shininess and newness, or is there really a there, there?
2. What would I need to know and what minimal questions would I need answered to figure out whether this Shiny New Thing is worth my attention?
3. How long will it reasonably take me to figure out what I need to know? Can I even afford that investment? How does it impact what I’m doing now?
4. Should I go ahead and….Hey wait! As I was writing this, I just came across another topic for this blog as a result of something on Guy Kawasaki’s blog. Must…try…to…resist…shiny…new…thing. Oh no…it’s too…shinyyyyyyyy….[click]
Tom, when not cartooning (eg. for Marketing Week), is method’s international managing director. Based in London, he frequently speaks at campuses, companies, and conferences about marketing, cartooning, and how to spread business ideas. @tomfishburne