5 Tips for Preventing Idea Theft
There are various things you can do that constitute self-promotion and one of those is promoting your great ideas. Creative idea generation is as important as your ability to get results and take responsibility for things.
The problem you can face is what to do when you discover someone has ripped off your great idea. It’s more than just irritating, it won’t enhance your career if you aren’t acknowledged for an idea that is given ownership to someone else. Especially, if that idea is a seriously good one.
There is some good news with what you’ve said and that is that someone thinks your ideas have merit or they wouldn’t have chosen to share it as their own. Being mimicked is a high form of flattery. That said, the downside to this situation is that you don’t get credited for the good idea. Your good ideas are part of your self-promotion, it’s how people come to view your potential. Let me just say this to set your expectations – you can never completely protect your ideas. You can do some things to help reduce the likelihood of other people taking credit.
- When you toss out an idea, toss it out to more than 1 person. It doesn’t have to be at the same time but you will find that the more people hear your ideas; they will know it’s yours. That way if someone does try to represent the idea as yours, others will know it came from you.
- When appropriate, document your idea via email. Again, it’s hard to represent something that is in black and white and sent to others.
- This may take some effort, but you can inject a quick ownership sound bite when someone has talked up your idea as their own. You could say something like “I guess you really did like my idea. We should talk about it some more.” It’s important for you to realize that when someone does this, it usually isn’t done with foul intent. We all have tons of information coming at us all the time and don’t always remember its origins. I have a couple people very close to me that do this all the time.
- If you do know that someone has done this not only repeatedly but to undermine you, you need to stop sharing with them if you can. Understand that your boss may do this to you (as well as others in your group) and that situation is different. Sometimes, management does represent ideas, work and results as theirs to simplify communication. In some ways, they have to represent everything going on in their group and it may not be appropriate to detail out every single person’s contribution. The main thing is that the boss does recognize YOUR ideas and contributions.
- You may need to ultimately confront your offender or discuss this issue with your boss for their guidance. Only take these steps if the tips outlined above have failed to stop a “repeat offender”.
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