Shiny Object Syndrome Is Not A Business Error Or A Character Flaw

Recently there was a discussion in a Facebook group about shiny object syndrome. As per what seems to be “normal”, it was framed as a rookie mistake or something to be “overcome”. As someone who likes to embrace my love of shiny objects, it irritated me. Shiny object syndrome is not a business error or a character flaw.


Shiny Object Syndrome Is Not A Business Error Or A Character Flaw


Shiny Object Syndrome Is Not A Business Error Or A Character Flaw


As you may know, I like the podcast “Faster Than Normal” because the premise is to look at neurodiversity as “a gift, not a curse”. (Update: While this was my opinion in 2018 when I originally wrote this, I have changed my views somewhat since. I need to expand on this and will link to a new post when I’ve written it.)


(I’m not saying that ADHD is the same as shiny object syndrome, because I am in no way qualified to say that. I do feel there’s a similarity insofar as working with your skills, energy and abilities, not against them.)


It’s A Business Error

This seems to be one of the most common responses I’ve seen to shiny object syndrome. Usually something like “Haha, oh yes, I had that when I started out.” or “Rookie error, you can’t do all the things.” 


I’d like to dispute in general that it is a business error. More closely, I’d challenge the thought that it’s a rookie error. If you absolutely must view it as something to be “outgrown” in your development as business owner, then at least view it as a positive discovery process about where you business can go in the future. It’s about your options. Your choices. What you can sell, what you want to do, what makes money. Exploring these variables are all good things! 


It’s a Character Flaw

The non-business framing of shiny object syndrome is that it’s a character flaw. Something to outgrow. The feeling I get when I read comments and thoughts in this context is that similar to how some people view idealistic university graduates who want to change the world. 


And my response is… so what? Are you really that judgmental that you can’t deal with someone who wants to change the world? Or, in the shiny context, someone who wants to work differently to you? 


What I find particularly bizarre about viewing shiny object syndrome in a negative light is that a) I actually think most business owners have it and b) why are we applying rules for no reason?


Do business owners have Shiny Object Syndrome?

Well, if you own a business, I’ll let you answer that for yourself. But personally, I think if you are coping with a business on your own (or perhaps with a partner or other small, bootstrap like structure) then you have the same skill set as someone with shiny object syndrome. You take care of what your business activity is. You take care of the finances. Marketing. Regulatory compliance. You are doing ALL THE THINGS. Look through your week (preferably not from your high horse) and tell me exactly where you are different? Are you claiming that you’re different because you have intention? Or a schedule? Well, good for you if you do have those things, but why do you assume the people with Shiny Object Syndrome don’t have that? Is it the enthusiasm for new things that makes you assume there’s no follow through?


Why is this a rule?

I feel like being against shiny object syndrome is very corporate. Very big and/or traditional business. The sort of people who truly believe in the phrase I despise: “jack of all trades, master of none”. But this is business. Business is distinct from corporate for me as business in Australia generally means small business. 97% of businesses in Australia are small businesses. In my experience, working in a small business means you need a wider skill set, due to the lack of quantity of staff. In a large business, you can have highly specific and dedicated roles. It seems illogical to me to be applying a “rule” of not having shiny object syndrome in the small business sector, because that’s probably who you need! 


How do you feel about people calling shiny object syndrome a flaw? 


6 Replies to “Shiny Object Syndrome Is Not A Business Error Or A Character Flaw”

  1. It seems to me that shiny object syndrome could be an asset because you’re always having new ideas instead of stagnating. You’re quite right, that phrase “jack of all trades, master of none’ isn’t helpful at all.

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      A great point. New ideas are created all the time instead of falling back on that other phrase I hate hearing “But that’s how we’ve always done it”

  2. To those who say you can’t do too many things at once, whatever. You never get bored of whatever it is you’re focusing on at the time. Plus, it seems like a good way to stay sharp.

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      Exactly. You get to be interested, engaged and a life long learner. All positives.

  3. I know I have this syndrome and have the art and craft materials to prove it. Luckily I use them all so I know I am lucky!

    Thank you for linking up for #lifethisweek. Next week’s optional prompt is a photo-based one: Share Your Snaps 27/8/18. Denyse

    1. Haha lucky you shop the sales too!

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