A recent post on You Brand Inc. entitled Why You Should Make Sure Others Steal Your Ideas, by Scott Scanlon, discusses all the reasons why getting ripped off for your brainstorms can actually be a good business strategy. The essence of Scanlon’s argument is that the widespread adoption of your ideas has the tendency to drive you to become a recognized thought leader in your industry segment. Although Scanlon supports his thesis amply there are some clear pros and cons to becoming an altruistic idea gifter.
Passion About Your Business Triggers Prolific Creativity
The crux of Scanlon’s thesis is that giving ideas away is good for you in that it encourages you in being a prolific idea generator and helps you become widely recognized as an authoritative provider of clarity within your market segment. It is true that the leading experts in any sector tend to create more ideas and overall content than anyone else active in that segment. Scanlon attributes this phenomenon to the passion about one’s business which triggers this blooming of creativity and original thinking. While it is true that many thought leaders throughout the field of marketing are very passionate about their craft, not all become highly prolific at idea generation. After all, conventional wisdom states that success is not found by the individual who generates a thousand good ideas, but by the person who comes up with one good idea and makes it work. The value of tossing everything that you can come up with against the wall to see if it sticks leads to the dilution of your truly worthy concepts and may get you defined not so much as an authoritative expert but as a glib motormouth.
Ideas May Be Difficult if Not Impossible to Properly Transplant
Scanlon states that it’s preferable to have your own original concepts stolen from you than appropriate ideas from other individuals. He supports this hypothesis with the justification that if you are borrowing or reconfiguring concepts from other thought leaders in your industry sector you are not benefiting from the advantages of arriving at determinations based on your own brand’s data. Since no two businesses are the same, what will work magnificently in one company may lead to epic fails in another. That differential in success rate may not be related to the value of the idea itself, but on the fact that the original concept may have been formulated based on the specific business dynamics of one company and it may be difficult if not impossible to transplant it properly in order to make it work in another business, even though they may be in the same industry sector and otherwise very similar.
Internet Intellectual Property Is an Oxymoron
Intellectual property in the age of the internet is effectively an oxymoron, so the determination of where any concept actually generated and who can legitimately claim ownership is as murky as a London panorama in November. Similarly, the tenet that you can measure your success as an online guru by the number of concepts which you are able to generate and then see bloom in your competitor companies is somewhat akin to defining your success as a parent by how many of your kids you can get adopted away. Just like there is limited value in becoming a baby-making machine for the purposes of having them raised by total strangers, it can be argued that most people would consider it preferable after nine months of morning sickness to keep the little kid. Therefore although you are more than free to feel great about yourself when you see a great idea being taken away and turned into a great success, many would argue that it is preferable to keep it and turn it into your own cash cow.
In the final analysis you may be too concerned about keeping your ideas safe, as widespread adoption of anyone’s brainstorms is nowhere near as common as you may think!
Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.
– Howard H. Aiken, IBM computing pioneer