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Shiny Object Syndrome


What is shiny object syndrome?


Shiny object syndrome definition

In product management, shiny object syndrome is a damaging mentality that forces us to build features that seem interesting or are a unique selling point but actually offer little value to the user. The Wii U was a very expensive example of shiny object syndrome in the gaming sector. As we’re starting to pull away from feature bloat, many product managers are trying to become more conscious of shiny object syndrome.

Causes of shiny object syndrome

Falling into the shiny object syndrome trap is easy, and there are many reasons why going down that route seems like a good idea at the time.

  • Lack of focus - Working with customer feedback can quickly become overwhelming, making it tough to figure out where to go next.

  • FOMO - It’s always worth remembering that fear of missing out is not a valid reason to pursue a new idea. Watching someone else release an update or new product to acclaim will always leave you wondering what that could do for your business. 

  • Poor planning - A poorly planned development process usually leads you down the shiny object path, eyeing easy wins as the release date creeps closer. 

  • Unclear goals - You would be shocked to see how many product teams head into development without a game plan. This again leads to chasing shiny features and easy wins.


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Why is shiny object syndrome a problem?

As mentioned, shiny object syndrome does very little to address customer needs, but it also harms product managers and the business as a whole. Common issues caused by shiny object syndrome include:

  • Project delays

  • Low team morale

  • Missed opportunities

  • Lack of value to the customer

  • Wasted time, money, and resources

Examples of shiny object syndrome in product management

We often see shiny object syndrome's effects without realizing what has happened. Looking back on projects can help you identify ways to avoid them next time, especially when you notice signs like:

  • Undelivered projects

  • Missed timelines/deadlines

  • Lack of focus and direction

  • Constantly changing goals, roadmaps, plans

  • Lower feature usage

  • Lack of customer acknowledgment of new features

How can airfocus help you avoid shiny object syndrome?

At airfocus, we have all sorts of tools you can use to stay on track and ignore those shiny objects! Here are a few: 

What is shiny object syndrome

General FAQ

What is shiny object syndrome in product management?
Shiny object syndrome occurs when product managers focus heavily on features that seem good but offer little value.
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