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  • Brett Jaffe

Ignore the squirrel and leave your wallet at home


Shiny Object Syndrome, or SOS, is the disease of distraction that has derailed many a business. As owners, especially in tech companies, we all tend to crave bleeding edge technology. There’s something to be said for that new gadget, software, or service that feeds the entrepreneurial hunger in us all. And nowhere does this exhibit itself more profoundly than at the numerous IT events and trade shows.


While the influx of ideas can be an admirable trait in a visionary, this can also be the squirrel that keeps a company from growing and meeting targets. Being distracted by the “next new thing” may often take away from the consistent revenue generated around executing your core competency. Case in point, see GoPro’s unfortunate foray into the drone market and what it did to company brand and financials.


Don’t get me wrong, new markets can present an opportunity that can truly drive a business, but as Jim Collins illustrates in his book Great by Choice, businesses that prevail over time self-impose a rigorous performance mark to hit with great consistency. He refers to this concept as The 20 Mile March.


“…like hiking across the United States by marching at least 20 miles a day, every day. The march imposes order amidst disorder, discipline amidst chaos, and consistency amidst uncertainty.”

Great companies execute with great consistency and aren’t always chasing the shiny objects. This doesn’t mean to abandon them, but rather to ask yourself some pertinent questions:


  • Is this new technology, gadget, service right for my business? Is it just a gimmick/fad or does it truly fit into your scope of service, add value, or perhaps add a level of automation or efficiency that will pay dividends?

  • Do my customers want or need it? Often what is attractive to business owners and their teams does not generate the same excitement from the client and may be more difficult to sell to them than it was to sell to you.

  • Do I have the time, resources, or energy to put into this new product/service and will it take precedent over the many projects currently in the pipeline?


One of the easiest ways to combat SOS is to, figuratively, leave your wallet at home. Attend the events. See the new technology. Talk to the vendors. Then bring your ideas back to discuss with your team to make sure any technology you chase will not keep you from consistently hitting your targets and making progress on your march.

 
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