Shiny Pennies in the Workplace

We tend to like the newest thing--even at work--but don't hitch your sleigh to it.

By + More

TH_OV_GLHoffman copy.jpg
GL Hoffman

We are all easily entranced by new products, services, ideas, applications and…..people. It is hard to resist the temptation of the “new.” Even the answer to the question, “Do you want the La-Z-Boy you see here, or what is behind door no. 2?” almost always gets answered “Door no. 2, Drew!”

Most new things come all wrapped up and pretty, shiny and new--but mostly they're just different. I call it the shiny penny syndrome (not original) and I have made this mistake plenty.

This is how many consultants earn their living. They know pretty much what you tell them, but do a better job of articulating it, organizing it, and then telling you what you must do… later. Still , they look good in suits, mill around smartly, and are awfully impressive. Shiny pennies. Not true? How many studies do you have in your drawer that have not been acted upon…yet?

Sometimes new hires are like this too. They come in from another industry, fresh and energetic with a ready grasp of the issues. You don’t know them well yet, but the boss-man seems enamored, so you go along. These are times that dictate you go along, as you know.

Soon, most of the company realizes that shiny pennies look great, but they are not worth much. In the meantime, you have hitched your sled to the new lead dog.

Twitter might be like this too. It certainly is for the help-wanted industry, per this report by Toby Dayton in JobDig's Diggings.

G.L. Hoffman is a serial entrepreneur and venture investor/operator/incubator/mentor. Two of his companies have traveled the entire success path from the garage to IPO. Currently, he is chairman of JobDig, and his blog can be found at or at