Brilliant as usual. I know this problem well
Bulls Eye ...
I was discussing it my co-founder yesterday on why do I keep on getting these new product and new venture ideas, instead of focussing on my current stuff.. Is there something wrong with me? During our discussion we came to conclusion that may be we are seeing more opportunities in different contexts but Now I know, the root cause is different..
It's very easy to get distracted by SNT, and god knows how many times I have done that in the past, Even I have stopped counting now.
Next time I would surely be asking myself these four questions before I launch into any thing
One more thing which can work is to start maintaining your Idea Book, any new SNT comes up, goes into your book without you working on it during your normal working hours. Go through the book on Sunday evening, answer the questions about each idea, grade them, and then pick up the MSNT (Most Shiny New Thing) and work on it. And regarding your idea book, try going offline rather than online..
Great Post Dharmesh !!
Excellent writeup of what several of us go through. When applied to "kids" (that we all are) this "syndrome" (if you will) is called "perceptiveness". Only maturity helps you "stay on course", I guess.
One "solution" to this might be to seek dependable hands to transfer what you do before you yield to a SNT that is too difficult to give up. Of course you are not sure of "success" (the way you define) but then you make sure that your current passion, product, customers ... is not orphaned because of this perceptiveness. I know it is hard to find someone who you trust and who might take your current venture forward, but who knows, your current thing might be that person's SNT! (You obviously have to be lucky).
Dharmesh, great post. Completely agree with your assessment. Maybe there should be a help group for SNTS (Shiny New Thing Syndrome). It would save many entrepreneurs :)
One thing that I found helped me get over SNTS is that when I get a new idea I take a couple hours to get all my thoughts and ideas down on paper, a brain dump per say. That way I get it out of my head which helps me think about it less.
Then when I am done with my current company I have some inspiration to look back on for my next company.
As you might have guessed, I have the new company/feature/market issue.
An amazinngg post Dharmesh because i am a big time victim of this syndrome and every time SNT comes up in my mind i end up appreciating and cursing myself for it.
as kedar said "only maturity makes you stay on course" i really have felt this as for past some time i have been successfully able to curb the temptation of going ahead and developing a new product for a NEW BIGGER MARKET than my existing product :P
i don't know whether SNTS makes or breaks an entrepreneur but it definitely dilutes the focus which kills in the long run.
confession: i am writing all this with mixed feelings as running a product company SNT has bitten me alot of times resulting in a new product every time and alot of them never saw the day light as while or after making them i kept my focus on my main product. (and that saved me as well) but still today only i met a long time friend and he wanted to discuss some new idea with me and i after much of my fight with myself to say no to him i still said yes for a discussion next week :D ...
could'nt help it... ;)
I would add that tweaking ideas that fall within companies current focus is still OK. In other words, tacking
is fine, but changing course
completely could be an SNT.
aah dharmesh get out of my head!!!! this post is bang on
This is going to my boss - who is the poster child for ADD :)
I don't remember meeting you, but you obviously know me very well! ;-)
Great article. Spot on.
The SNT syndrome is so familiar it's scary. Here's one way to work it out: the fabric of your founding team. You need a no-man not a yes-man.
If you're the type who gets distracted every morning then you want one of those more stubborn/skeptical types with you, who will act as a counterweight. On the one hand, stubborn-guy will filter out most of SNT-guy's crazy new ideas while on the other hand the truly good ideas surface from the discussion. It doesn't work if either side is too dominant. You've got to have a perfect balance.
Another simple way I've found to filter out at least 50% of the SNTs is simply to stall. It's tempting to act on your idea the very morning you wake up with that figurative light-bulb over your head. Don't. Write it down. Wait a week. Let your brain process it in the background. If it's still shiny when it's not so new anymore, then it does deserve a deeper look.
that's very interesting, Dharmesh. I think every entrepreneur at some stage does go through this. I think me and my friends did this for years! before we finally buckled down and settled down.
Although probably unrelated to this post, I think the converse of this syndrome is probably a lack of belief; the anti-SNT. You come up with a really decent idea and then you go, 'ah well i think some guy in ohio did this, ah well forget it, my stuff is NOT the shiny new thing i was hoping it would be', only to find that someone else from texas did replicate it a few months later but just happend to do it well. and it worked. ouch!
Another very acute one.
From the time I had earned a little money from collecting coke bottles - all the way through my 30s, I had this syndrome with hobbies. In my teens, I formed a new rule set:
I could always research. If I thought of it every day for 30 days, I would make a small investment. If I used that small investment for more than two months on at least a weekly basis, I would invest more.
Depending on how you look at it, it never worked or it worked exceptionally well. I have no interests except for my wife, my dog Bubba, entrepreneurialism and the web.
I agree about the shiny new thing being a killer. I do not jump on the newest bandwagon, so I have stuck with ASP 3.0, SQL Server 2000, Windows Server 2000 even as shiny new things come out of the woodwork. Why rewrite 150k lines of code in the shiny new things when you can write a whole lot of new code in the old thing that works just fine.
HELLO! THANK YOU! As you can see, you've struck a nerve with many of your readers!!!
I love Sri's advice above. Every team needs an accelerator and a brake. The accelerator is the SNT afficianado - the brake is the anti-SNT. When the two recognize the value of the other - that's when magic can happen.
Thanks to everyone for your comments and great discussion.
Indeed, it seems this topic has struck a nerve.
I particularly like the ideas of having an accelerator/break (counter-balancing force) and the notion of documenting ideas and sleeping on them, instead of acting too quickly.
It's nice to see I'm not the only one with SNT syndrome. I was starting to feel like everybody in the world (except for me) was a highly motivated, singly-focused person bent on achieving that single awesome thing for their startup. What a relief ... although that realization still doesn't help me stick to my goals.
ahhh, I'm already distractable - an east SNT target.
The way I try to stay a little disciplined is keep some ideas of ways we ought to grow in mind, even (or especially) when I don't have a solution; e.g. we need distribution, or let's emphasize "the social." As we keep learning (cough reading & playing with stuff), we get ideas for how to fulfill these perceived needs.
So, hopefully we've built some constraints into the application of the SNT. I think it might be particularly necessary when you're as much of a natural target as I am.
As someone that has SNT ideas all the time, I think that if you are having SNT ideas that is a good thing. It shows that your mind is still active, still curious, still wanting to push ahead.
The key thing is only acting on what you should.
For years I didn't follow my instincts and ended up seeing something like 30 of the ideas I had dismissed (or let other people tell me were no good) get implemented by other people and I'd read about them in a magazine or the internet. How many actually got done that I didn't read about?
So I got sick of this and started doing some of the ideas I had. And the rest, I write them down and occasionally re-visit them. Many of the ideas I had 10 or 14 years ago have now been implemented by someone else and are not worth following and some of the more recent ideas, well, if I had the time...
SNTs are not necessarily a bad thing. So long as your can resist the temptation.
Great post Dharmesh.
I think I was infected with SNT#3 bug. A few months into our core product- ScrumPad
development, I had an SNT#3 bug bite...:-) I had some of our developers start working on this another product. After couple months working on two different products at the same time, I realized that we could not focus on any. And I stopped working on the other product. I am glad that I did. However, still I get excited about SNT features and distract my team in the process. It is too tempting...:-) Agile/Scrum
is helping me fight SNT
. Syed My Blog
Love the Shiny New Things post, brought a smile to my face. Though you're right about the need to maintain control, SNTs are also a good part of what makes entrepreneurship so exciting for me. It took a long time, but like others I've devised my own filtering method so I don't miss or forget about great opportunities while remaining focused on the goal at hand. My Favorites folder is a wealth of SNT links, categorized and cross-referenced using my own mysterious brand of mental logic, and I try to review it regularly to see what pops out.
BTW - This a great blog, with a sense of humor - possibly the greatest asset any entrepreneur can have!
Don't talk about me when I am in the room please.
Just remember the most important lesson in life is.......oh look shinny......
ADD moment brought to you by
SNTs are good to realize your Strengths. Every entrepreneur should go through the SNTs until breakdown.
Its a great post.
I truly agree! Great Post...
I am glad I came across this article. I and a friend are working on multiple projects at the time, but this post explains the crazy distractions of shiny ideas which are normal, particularly the questions helped us to justify in pursuing on another shiny thing. Please read this blog article to see how we addressed the questions Idea Born Of Necessity
I am always in that situation of SNT.. but then a few days ago.. I saw a Marshmallow test http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amsqeYOk--w ... and it helped me .. get a control on not having that marshmallow right away!
Great post. I get requests to look into SNT's all of the time.
Here's how I manage the Shiny New thing process with regards to product features:
- Document: Hang a "new ideas board" somewhere in the office where folks can put new ideas on sticky notes.
- Prioritize: Once per release iteration, work the "new ideas" into to the roadmap (or into the wastebasket!)
- Test before invest: If you have some time (or an idle developer), do some more research or even a POC. Often times, the luster wears off after you get to know it a little better. (If you have a "labs" or "beta" area of your product, even better. Turn it on for your charter customers to try it out)
If you live by these rules, I have found that most "new ideas" either never get to be high enough priority or they don't quite give you the ROI that you'd expect.