Financial Poise
Shiny Service Syndrome

Why This Cousin of Shiny Object Syndrome is Equally Bad for Business

When Lured by Shiny Service Syndrome, Will Your Business Survive or Evolve?

One of The Five Questions I ask people in my consulting work is, “How will we evaluate shiny new objects?” Typically, we’re talking about tools, apps, platforms and technologies that may improve our service delivery—or be a massive distraction.

However, we’re also seeing another version of the shiny object syndrome: Shiny Service Syndrome.

Like Shiny Object Syndrome, but for Services

In this day and age, we tend to fall into the danger of thinking, “OK, this is what people want. Well, at least we think this is what they want. So, we should develop something for that want right now. Let’s go like gangbusters, rapidly prototype and get something out there into the marketplace. Go, go, go!” You’ve probably heard this described as “Ready. Fire. Aim.”

Sometimes it’s not terrible for an organization to prototype and experiment with service offerings in select marketplaces. The danger comes when we throw everything out there, including the kitchen sink, to see what works.

How do we tread the line between remembering who we are and evolving at the same time?

It’s a balance, to be sure. Two words come to mind: evolve and survive. Let’s take the survival piece first.


The survival aspect says that you need to do something to generate revenue. Then a prospect approaches you and says, “Hey, can you do this for us?” And you answer, “Of course! I can do that!”

Later, you sit down and wonder how you’re going to deliver on that, because it’s such a departure from your ordinary course of operations. Do you truly understand the cost of delivering the service that you’ve now committed to doing?

The lesson here—an often painful one for those in survival mode—is that when someone asks you to do something, no matter how much you need or want revenue, it’s OK to say, “Well, can I think about that for a day, so I can come back to you and tell you if I can do it or not?” That way, if you come back to them and decline the opportunity, you can still make a referral to a strategic partner in the space. You may even have a referral agreement with that person.


Now let’s discuss the state of your evolution.

Companies in a post-pandemic climate may very well need to shift from selling giant programs around a core offering to a build-as-you-go program where the relationship is a progression. That means building upon one piece or project, then another, then another, and so on. If your company was a car, it would be the base model that you continually add features onto. Not a purchase of the deluxe model from the start.

At the end of the day, however, it may be okay. Yes, your ideal client’s behavior is different than how it used to be, and it may be a long time, if ever, for them to return to that. Still, they’re buying—just in a different form. Many times, we’re talking about essentially the same thing, just cut differently. So take a closer look at what you’re providing. It may be very similar to what you were producing before, just adjusted to the market.

Shiny Service Syndrome can get you to roll out a whole bunch of new services, but that’s where you can get yourself into a lot of trouble. Instead, ask yourself: is there a way we can change our process? It doesn’t have to be our people or product, but if we change our process, perhaps our price structure and the way people buy from us can feel very new and fresh—even if it doesn’t feel totally fresh to us.

Avoid Shiny Service Syndrome by Building on an Existing Foundation

As you think about your offerings, consider how you can lay the foundation of the building versus trying to sell someone on the entire completed structure. In the environment many of us are operating in, it may be more than fine to create a foundation that provides a revenue stream and enhanced client relationships. And then? Just keep building on top of it.

[Editors’ Note: To learn more about this and related topics, you may want to attend the following webinars: What Every Founder/Entrepreneur Must Know and Turning an Idea Product into a Business.]

©All Rights Reserved. May, 2021.  DailyDACTM, LLC d/b/a/ Financial PoiseTM

About David Spitulnik

David Spitulnik is a successful executive with over 40 years of experience in both large technology companies and in consulting to and leadership of mid-market, closely held and family owned businesses across a variety of industries. In addition to serving as chair of the Private Directors Association’s Private and Family Business Center Outreach Committee, David…

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