When your ideas get stolen

When your ideas get stolen.
A few meditations from Seth Godin:
“Good for you. Isn’t it better that your ideas are worth stealing? What would happen if you worked all that time, created that book or that movie or that concept and no one wanted to riff on it, expand it or run with it? Would that be better?
You’re not going to run out of ideas. In fact, the more people grab your ideas and make magic with them, the more of a vacuum is sitting in your outbox, which means you will prompted to come up with even more ideas, right?
Ideas that spread win. They enrich our culture, create connection and improve our lives. Isn’t that why you created your idea in the first place?
The goal isn’t credit. The goal is change.”

A friend of mine has lots of great ideas. Enough to write a really valuable blog. Unfortunately he’s terrified that someone else will steal those ideas. In the meantime, he’s missing out on building a really important personal brand for himself. Do you know anyone like him?

The great thing about writing a daily blog is that it forces you to generate lots of ideas. It forces you to be constantly thinking about your subject matter and how it relates to the world. Putting them out there in the hope that others want to run with them, in the hope that they spread. In the hope that others will expand upon them and make them more powerful, teaching you along the way. At over 2000 posts now, it’s been an immensely enriching experience for me anyway. As Seth states, the goal is definitely change and we can all agree that OSS is in desperate need for change.

It is incumbent on all of us in the OSS industry to come up with a constant stream of ideas – big and small. That’s what we tend to do on a daily basis right? Do yours tend towards the smaller end of the scale, to resolve daily delivery tasks or the larger end of the scale, to solve the industry’s biggest problems?

Of your biggest ideas, how do you get them out into the world for others to riff on? How many of your ideas have been stolen and made a real difference?

If someone rips off your ideas, it’s a badge of honour and you know that you’ll always generate more…unless you don’t let your idea machine run.

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4 Responses

  1. I like to believe they respect you enough to share your ideas and let them grow because the idea now takes on different shapes from the new perspective. I hope never to plagiarize though and always try to credit sources when possible, which I think is fair, don’t you?

  2. It’s always great to get recognition for ideas / effort Christi. Sometimes the outcomes of seeing an idea come to fruition are their own reward, but yes, hopefully there’s enough respect to recognise the source. 🙂

  3. Great post Ryan! Your post has the rare distinction of changing my attitudes about trying to retain ownership of ideas and initiatives.
    Another angle is that initiatives are almost always incremental, i.e. built on the inspiration of other thinkers, and that we have an opportunity to enrich and extend ideas before “passing the baton”.
    At least blogging presents opportunities to register your contribution as well as demonstrating your ability to work with other pioneers.

  4. I’m definitely honoured James!

    Incremental indeed! Standing on the shoulders of giants and hopefully allowing something even more significant to grow / evolve.

    Perhaps those who are most scared of having their ideas stolen are the ones who aren’t confident in their ability to constantly develop new ideas?? But for those who force themselves to be an idea machine, that’s never going to be a problem is it? 🙂

    Oh, and in terms of retaining ownership, I figure that almost all of the most important changes / projects are delivered by the many, not the individual. The seed of innovation may come from an individual, but the implementation usually comes from a team that shares the vision. If I want big changes to happen, I have to inspire others to help me co-create!

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