Do you suffer from Bright Shiny Objects?

Bright shiny objects distract us right? Too many leaders suffer from an occasional bout of BSO Syndrome, chasing bright shiny objects. A leader’s focus must remain clear.

What are some bright shiny objects?  I am not talking about material things, although those certainly can distract. I once knew a CEO who had a large 10 foot mural of a road racing bicycle he owned hung in his office. Seriously, a 10 foot picture of a bike, with pedals and chains. Kudos to him for his dedication to cycling, but seriously. How distracting was that mural?

The notion of bright shiny objects means the shifting of focus from the central track we need to be operating on to less than significant efforts that rob energy and effort from the venture. In one word, distraction.

When we fall prey to chasing BSO, we lose sight of the plan we are on, priorities slip, even relationships change. We can get blinded to the lure of the BSO.

There’s a funny thing though. People subject to frequent BSO syndrome usually don’t even know they do it. Why? They are too busy bouncing from one object to the next.

When you are tasked with leading a team, you have to be ever-vigilant for BSO distraction. They come in many ways. Here are the key ones:

YOU GET LOST

You as the leader find and see some BSO, so you get lost. Your attention shifts away from the primary direction. You take a detour. You become the one with glazed vision and a fixed stare, looking at the new thing, unable to refocus on the key elements of your work.

I have attorney friends who often complain about clients who miss the critical aspects of a legal fight because they are more focused on the BSO elements instead of the bigger picture. Big cases have been lost over BSO chasing mentality.

THE TEAM GETS LOST

A whole team can get caught up in some form of bright shiny object, causing a herd mentality. When the masses shift on you, their leader, you have to rein it back in again. By over-communicating core values, vision, and direction, you reduce or eliminate the risk of the team shifting away from you to chase a BSO.

Fortunately, team shift caused by bright shiny objects is rare. In most cases, a team shift is not about bright and shiny things, but doom and gloomy things. Bad momentum can cause a whole team to shift. But that’s another topic.

THE MARKET GETS LOST

This may be the toughest form of BSO Syndrome to fight. When a whole market shifts to the next big thing, you have to be ready to make informed decisions about whether you want to take your business in a different direction. There is a fine line between waiting out a temporary shift (a true, but temporary, flight to some BSO) versus a real change in a market.

Kodak infamously missed the digital photography shift. Digital wasn’t just some BSO, it was a disruptive progression of change.

Being too dedicated to avoiding all bright shiny objects may leave you behind or totally out of a market. Occasionally what appears to be a BSO may need to be carefully evaluated after all. This is especially true with shifts in the market value of your product or service.

The Best Solution

The best way to avoid distraction from chasing BSO is to maintain an awareness of your priorities and purpose. Allow for frequent checks on the primary objectives you have set in your plan. Be true to to those efforts first. Be open and honest with yourself and others about chasing bright shiny objects. As a leader you must have a feedback loop provided by trusted advisors who can call you out on a venture down BSO Lane.

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