The Real Problem With Shiny Objects

The always-insightful Mark Suster has another winning post up, “The Perils of Shiny Objects.”

“In today’s uber-connected, social media, everything-is-public, people
tell you there’s killing it with these new features, investor & mentor whiplash – it’s hard to avoid the latest thing.

Pinterest is killing it with their new UI. 4 months later every fucking product I see looks like Pinterest.

Skeuomorphic design. No, wait! FLAT design. Native apps. HTML5. Open graph. Twitter Amplify. Voice messaging. Video messaging.

All of this whiplash is destroying your
business. All of these features, products, business models in their own
right are valuable. Slowly. Sequentially. Thoughtfully. Methodically.
Tested. In due course.
Done quickly while you rush to the next toy is a disaster.”

Mark’s absolutely right.  Trendsucking entrepreneurs are guilty of practicing cargo cult capitalism–they mimic the outward signs of success in the mistaken believe that correlation equals causality.

The real problem with shiny objects is that they distract you from the things that really matter: Listening to customers, even though they can’t articulate what they want.  Trying to sell your product, knowing that you’ll fail, but also knowing that you’ll learn in the process.  Deciding what to focus on and sticking to it until the circumstances significantly change.

The implicit assumption with shiny objects is that you can learn from other’s mistakes, and achieve success without making your own.  But you don’t achieve success by using first principles to figure out a perfect plan; you achieve success by going out into the market, getting your ass kicked, learning some hard lessons, then going back out again.

Following shiny objects is fun; taking dull, ugly objects and making them useful is what succeeds.

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