Shiny Data Syndrome

I’ve been reading Guy Kawasaki’s The Art of the Start 2.0.

It’s a great read not just for start-up entrepreneurs but, as the title says, for “anyone starting anything.”

This quote in particular got my attention. ddbf9262-90cf-4c03-b9a4-039c6691db4f-large

Sounds like shiny object syndrome

Ever heard of shiny object syndrome?

Seduced by a new project, nothing is ever seen to completion.

You may see this at your organization — executives moving on to the hot new project when the customer end-point minutiae have not been perfected. The inability to translate ideas from strategy into tactics is a business-killer.

Shiny data syndrome exists, too

I want to point out that as an analyst you may be doing this with your data. 

Ever tempted by new projects and ideas, you mine and mine and get nowhere.

“Don’t stop paying attention to a project because it gets boring.”

What does this mean for an analyst and his spreadsheet? I believe shiny data syndrome is the inability to think tactically about data preparation and reporting.

So you constructed a great report. Are you going to move on to the next shiny object, or are you going to stick with the boring stuff?

Will you make sure that in the future this report can be completed accurately and with minimal supervision? Or will it become another chore to run again, giving that even happens? Does it answer a probing business question, or was it just fun to build?

Trial and error — and farsightedness

Fast, cheap computing allows rapid trial and error. This along with huge amounts of data means it’s never been more fun to be an analyst.

What I worry about is this “data mining” mindset can become shiny data syndrome. Rather than sticking with your idea and testing hypotheses the old-fashioned way, it’s easy to move on to the next thing whenever your last thought gets boring.

So the next time you get frustrated with management’s inability to focus on a project, think: do you stick with your data when it gets boring?

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