Don’t Worry About Sharing Ideas

By Daniel Scocco

Ever had an Eureka moment where a brilliant idea suddenly popped into your head? What about when you first discovered that little trick that would help you a lot? Your first reaction on these moments was probably something like: “Man, I’d better keep this secret now, else someone will steal it.”

While this might appear intuitive, locking ideas down is rarely the best thing to do. This mistake comes from the value that people tend to place on ideas. Sure, on the information age ideas are more important than ever. The value, though, is not coming from an idea per se, but rather from the execution and implementation of such idea.

By sharing ideas you will be able to collect other people’s feedback, possibly honing your own assumptions. You will also be helping other people (directly or indirectly), and they will be more likely to return the favor.

There are exceptions for this rule (I don’t want a reader blaming me later when he shares freely a break-through invention instead of patenting it…), but most of the times sharing an idea will only benefit you.

As Howard Aiken used to say: “don’t worry about people stealing an idea. If it’s original, you will have to ram it down their throats.”



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25 Responses to “Don’t Worry About Sharing Ideas”

  • Yogesh Malik

    Some of the ideas , first looked impossible, then improbable, then self-evident. So share as many as possible, this way you will get more. You might not be able to implement all, others can. If you see it getting implemented by others, feel proud. Don’t count them.

    Worst is that, some people have no original ideas because they do not think of themselves to consider their ideas worth noticing and developing and miss a lot.

  • medyum

    I think sharing ideas is a great thing. It’s how many of the big blogs on blogging have made it. They offer an idea to help people blog better or better promote their blog.This is a great idea and I try to offer some good ideas over at my blogs. The trick now is to get people to visit so they can check them out! Until then, I will continue to be back here for more ideas!

  • The Baldchemist

    The world is full of people with ideas. Implimentation of them is another thing.

  • Young

    Thank you for your great idea!

    This post was translated to Chinese, so your idea will be shared with more people.Here is the address:

    http://www.essentialblog.cn/share-idea/

    Of course, I did the translation.^_^

  • Dave Starr — ROI Guy

    One of the more intelligent articles and comments I’ve come across in a while. I particularly liked the exchange with dean … let me add also that an idea not acted upon in _9_ months is no idea at all.

    The Aiken quote id very realisitc for anyone who has worked in a beaureacratic setting industry or acedene … rather than getting anyone else to “stal” your idea, the hardest job is to get anyone else to even adopt the idea of trying it … the process usually resembles the task of pushing a car uphill with a rope.

    First Mover advantage? No way. Ever flown in a plane named Curtiss or Wright? Think Microsoft originated anything (for years they licensed DR-DOS code, virtually every app they currently sell was purchased and re-branded). Driven a Studebaker lately? Think Apple is an innovator? then don’t look up Xerox’s history, because most of Apple’s “innovations” are Xerox PARCS concepts that Xerox bought and paid for but was then too clueless to market. The list goes on.

    Good ideas are as common as leaves on a tree … and, unshared and un-implemented worth just as much.

  • Jermayn Parker

    If its a business idea, keep it and only share with a selected few but if its another idea like for blogs etc, share it!

  • Nathaniel

    Sharing ideas can be scary. Right now I’m just sitting on what I perceive as either the holy grail or the apocalypse of free traffic generation… and I have neither the ability nor the resources to pull it off. On top of that, even if I did have the ability and the resources, there’s nothing stooping someone else from doing the same thing and grinding me into the dust.

    I think it all comes down to trust. I don’t know the people out there well enough to trust them with my idea. But I suppose Maki is right, you don’t have to be the first to be successful. I just want to be a part of it. I want to mold my idea into a reality. I don’t want to be just an idea man.

    I can’t help it, I’m an EXTREMELY paranoid person by nature.

  • Maki

    Myth? Maybe. Good article there 🙂

    I am quite aware that you don’t have to be the first to be successful or the dominant player in the market.

    But I wasn’t talking products but about ‘owning an idea or concept’. non-physical merchandise which cannot be improved or transformed without reference to the conceptual source.

    It’s easy to build on merchandise by changing features/functions or design… but it’s not easy to shake off the shadow of an idea.

    I’m currently studying 20th century philosophy and although thousands of years have passed, we are still made to study the works of people like Plato.

    But I do get what you’re trying to say.

  • DrSteve

    Excellent point. Just to advocate for the other side – not sharing your ideas. In principle I concur that what comes back to you when you discuss your idea is usually more than what you gave out. However, a word of caution – a few people one should hesitate to share with:
    -those in direct competition (would Gates share with Jobs? Ali with Foreman? No).
    -envious types (those who can’t stand to see you up and are determined to drag you down)
    -psychopathic types (they’re not all Manson-esque; I’ve written a post on the topic if you’re interested).

  • Jonk : Bargains

    Probably the best reason I can think of for telling other people your ideas is they can help connect you with people that they know who would be able or interested in helping you out.

    One idea I had a couple of years ago, just by talking about it to people I ended up making some extraordinary connections with some really talented people. (I didn’t run with it as I found out another guy with lots of VC had gone two months before me in securing the information sources.)

  • Rock

    As long as you share your ideas with the right people, then I totally agree.

    As with anything, sharing something with the wrong people can come back to bite you, or worse, they steal your idea.

  • Daniel

    Ivy, same could be said for the iPod. Apple revolutionized the industry, several years after the first MP3 players were in the market.

  • Ivy

    “On the information age and on our connected society, however, the advantages that you gain by being the first are erupting.”

    This is so true. Look at iPhone – it is unique, and one of its kind. But its not the first “PDA” phone to be built. Apple just made it prettier, cooler, and marketed it well.

    I don’t think this is true of commenting though 😉

  • Sridhar Katakam

    “The value, though, is not coming from an idea per se, but rather from the execution and implementation of such idea.”

    Here here!

  • Daniel

    Maki, in my opinion the first mover advantage is a myth. Sure it was a factor to consider under the industrial age, and under special industries where natural monopolies (like water distribution) existed.

    On the information age and on our connected society, however, the advantages that you gain by being the first are erupting.

    Google was not the first search engine. Youtube was not the first online video site. Facebook was not the first social network. I could go on and on.

    I wrote extensively about it here: http://innovationzen.com/blog/2006/08/21/first-mover-advantage-revisited/

  • Maki

    Sharing ideas is a good way to get feedback but please remember to only share with people you trust and know well enough.

    While the execution is of primary importance, owning an idea or concept and being the first to make it public first gives you some front-runner advantages that can give a real strategic boost.

    Your attention networks are key… most ideas will somewhat take off when people are watching/listening to you. 🙂

  • Daniel

    deanj, if in 9 months you had not done anything with the idea, then it probably meant that the developer believed in it more than you in the first place right?

  • Joe

    I think sharing ideas is a great thing. It’s how many of the big blogs on blogging have made it. They offer an idea to help people blog better or better promote their blog.

    This is a great idea and I try to offer some good ideas over at my blogs. The trick now is to get people to visit so they can check them out! Until then, I will continue to be back here for more ideas!

  • deanj

    This all depends on the situation. I was in a meeting with people from Silicon Valley at a well known computer company (not Apple) in which we were describing what we wanted to do with a license we were attempting to get.

    One of the developers insisted that what we were proposing wouldn’t work. That person turned around about 9 months later and started a new company based around that exact idea, and was pretty damn successful.

    Sharing ideas is SOMETIMES good. You just have to know who you’re dealing with.

  • Daniel

    I am a fan of Seth, although I had not seen his post.

    I first wrote about “sharing ideas” in 2006, you can see it here:
    http://innovationzen.com/blog/2006/09/30/innovation-is-about-sharing/

  • John Wesley

    Have you been reading Seth Godin? This reminds me of this post.

  • Young

    Yes, that is a good points. I think you won’t be successful on your blog if you do not share your idea here. Right?Haha.

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