A business associate came up with a new idea that has the potential of providing real value to the marketplace. In sharing the idea he expressed concerned about taking it to market for fear that someone else would copy it and steal the opportunity away from him. So faced with a real opportunity to create value and revenue how does one overcome their fear of an idea being stolen?
Ideas Require Execution
Ideas flow daily but any idea is only as good as the execution. Execution takes knowledge, management, people, processes and technology. Knowledge encompasses a lot of different elements. With tacit knowledge, people are not often aware of the knowledge they possess or how it can be valuable to others. Effective transfer of tacit knowledge generally requires extensive personal contact and trust. If you have an idea but do not trust the market then your idea remains hidden.
Tacit knowledge is not easily shared. Tacit knowledge consists often of habits and culture that we do not recognize in ourselves. In the field of knowledge management, the concept of tacit knowledge refers to a knowledge which is only known by an individual and that is difficult to communicate to the rest of an organization. Knowledge that is easy to communicate is called explicit knowledge. The process of transforming tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge is known as codification or articulation.
The tacit aspects of knowledge are those that cannot be codified, but can only be transmitted via training or gained through personal experience. Tacit knowledge has been described as “know-how” — as opposed to “know-what” (facts), “know-why” (science), or “know-who” (networking). It involves learning and skill but not in a way that can be written down.
Can You Copy Ideas?
Ideas are what stimulates markets to pursue the potential value an idea can bring to the market. In the traditional sense organizations would pursue legal remedies to protect their ideas in the form of copyrights, patents and trademarks. The traditional process takes time and money but is has its merits based on the scope and depth of an idea and the market opportunity. On the other hand consumption of the output of an idea is relevant and relative to the potential scale of execution of an idea. Without consumption no idea executed can create any economic value, now or in the future.
When we look at the landscape of social media we can see everyone copying anyone. The irony of copying others is that it doesn’t produce much original value except maybe propagation of a message. If you have an idea that can be executed and their is a market willing to consume it the value you create is relevant to consumption. Being first out with an idea and the related value create by the idea is relative to gaining market position. Some ideas you hope people copy because it only enhances your market position.
In a world that moves very fast and is fueled by markets of conversations “ideas” are only as valuable as what they produce for a market and whether the market will consume it. Fearing whether someone will copy your idea only restrains your idea from getting to market. An imitation of an idea can be a compliment to the originality of an idea.