The Shiny Penny Syndrome

The Shiny Penny Syndrome

There is a disabling disease that runs through family business leadership, especially those that are scaling up, and it can cause real havoc. It’s called “Chasing the Shiny Penny Syndrome”.  It’s when the company chases a new “shiny” opportunity in lieu of the core (and perhaps “boring”) stuff that got the business to where it is today.
 
Every company has done this at one time or another.  We learn about something new (a new product or a new market, etc…) and the next thing you know, we’ve gathered the troops to march in a new direction after something shiny…something we can’t possibly do.
 
“But why can’t we do it?  We are just as good as they are.”  And therein lies the crux of this disease.  You aren’t as good as they are…you are as GOOD AS YOU ARE.
 
This is where it’s leadership’s role to step in and remind everyone what you execute better than anyone else.  How you win every time. What you do best.  Chasing the latest shiny penny causes distractions, lost money and time, not to mention a feeling of defeat. 
 
If you succumb to this disease, that shiny penny that pulled you off track is eventually overshadowed by yet another shiny penny, and another…It’s a vicious cycle.
 
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t be innovative. In fact, innovation is how you survive in a world that is changing at hyper speed.  There is a difference between innovation and a shiny penny. The key is to innovate around your core customer, what they need and how you can uniquely provide it. Ask yourself, and the team, “Does this opportunity fit our strategic goals for growth?” That kind of focus and alignment with your team can produce extraordinary results. 
 
So how do you avoid this jumping from shiny penny to shiny penny? 
 
Start by reviewing your strategic plan. Is this new opportunity focused on your core customer? Does it help the business deliver on your brand promise?  You need a consistent framework of disciplined habits and rhythms that keep you focused and true to your plan, adjusting as a team to meet new challenges, not as a lone wolf chasing a shiny new penny. 
 
And if you decide, as a team, you should pursue a new opportunity, then do what all GREAT companies do – decide what you are willing to give up doing.  That’s right, give something up to make room for the new.
 
Strategy is much more about what you are NOT going to do than what you are going to do. 
 
Every company has the limited resources of time, money, and people.  If you decide to pursue something new, make sure everyone is aligned, resources have been allocated, and the priorities re-established.  You can’t do everything.  Decide together what you are going to do that allows you to win.