Saturday, July 30, 2011

The myth of confidentiality of ideas

On a lot many occasions, when I am asked for ideas or suggestions/advice, I find myself holding myself back. On many other occasions, I am sharing ideas left, right and center to many people's surprise. Near and dear ones even alert me on occasions when I go overboard talking about my ideas.

And my experiences so far lead me to conclude that the idea that 'there is merit in keeping ideas confidential' is a misplaced fear. And like many conclusions we come to, there are some exceptions to this conclusion as well. People share a hell lot of ideas on certain idea-sharing sites. But there are many - I suppose, majority - who don't.

I categorize ideas into two types:
  • talking-dependent ideas
  • doing-dependent ideas
Mind you, 'talking' also means 'doing'. Out here though, 'doing' excludes 'talking. :) You get the drift.

What do I call a talking-dependent idea? It's an idea which doesn't demand any significant change in the physical set-up (for once, consider 'software code' as physical). So that means a 'doing-dependent' idea is one which demands a significant change in physical set-up.

If you share some marketing communication ideas, it might be fairly easy for people to pick it up and run with it on their own. And that happens. But share an idea which implies birth of a new business model and you'll see how often it gets picked up.

Does that mean 'doing-dependent' ideas cannot be 'stolen'? Of course, can be. But the chances are slim, very slim.

I reckon a 'doing-dependent' idea would get 'stolen' if all of these conditions are met together. The person stealing the idea:
  • has domain expertise
  • has and is willing to risk his time and money on something that isn't his own 'idea'
  • is intelligent and reads all that's in between the lines
  • is energetic
Just 4 conditions but they are 'big' conditions to fulfill, all at the same time.

Is your idea 'doing-dependent'? Go, share! Chances of hitting the ears of a supporter are greater than those of a stealer. :D