Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Lifting" Ideas

Few things are more devastating than having someone take credit for your idea. Psychologists will tell you that. That's why at my company when a buddy of mine, Jim Buck, comes up with a great concept, I'll routinely say immediately, "Boy, am I glad I came up with that idea." To which Jim 's left eyebrow raises and we laugh.

But there's a more serious side to idea theft that happens in corporate America. It occurs daily in numerous scenarios. Sometimes there's a bid and one of the losing bidders has an idea "lifted" from their proposal and given to the winner. Sometimes, a supplier brings an idea to the customer, the customer takes it quietly or not-so-quietly and either does it in-house or gives it to a different supplier.

The point of this post is not to discuss ethics or bemoan situations like these. Rather, it is to offer one more reason why it's not the thing to do. That's because if you receive a great idea from someone and steal it, why would that someone ever bring another idea to you? If that idea is valuable, I think it's safe to assume that person is a source for more valuable ideas in the future.

The great songwriters, Lennon and McCartney, didn't write one good song, they wrote hundreds. The great authors, philosophers, and scientists were known for their great ideas--not that one thing they came up with.

When we hear or see a great idea, I think we need to realize that not only is that idea of value, but so is the source (the person, the company, etc.) from where it originated. The future ideas they have may be far more valuable than the one in front of you.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond Marketing Communications

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