ideas (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)
Hey, you probably stole my idea also. That’s just how it sometimes seems to work. Usually, and hopefully, not intentionally. It’s just that basically, most every idea we come up with is based on something; it depends on whether you simply clone it or change it to make it truly new and yours.
Happily, according to an adaptation of “The Knockoff Economy” in the Wall Street Journal, imitation often spurs innovation. Which certainly goes contrary to the idea of patents and copyrights, which exist because conventional thinking is that copying destroys the incentive to innovate.
Except think of the fashion industry, which is famous for copying, though the term used is “knockoff.” Or the primary example in the article, John Bogle who introduced the first index fund through his company the Vanguard group. Critics scoffed, asking who would be satisfied with just matching the market average? But not only is Vanguard the largest American mutual fund company, but Mr. Bogle’s idea, as you know, has been widely copied.
“Fashion—and finance—show that’s sometimes sharing an idea is more valuable than monopolizing it.”
And what about food? No one can copyright a recipe or own a unique dish. But the most ambitious chefs are constantly developing new dishes, knowing they will be “adapted” by others. Yet the world of food is more creative now than ever before. Many of the most innovative chefs realize that an open approach provides inspiration to others, to tweak, and improve and inspire.
I must admit I used to be hesitant to expose my ideas to other creatives for fear they would steal my thoughts. And that did indeed happen. But just as often, bouncing the idea off others gave me insights that made the original thought even stronger. My small insight then was that those who were really good at producing ideas never hesitated to let others see them, knowing that if they were “borrowed” they could always come up with new good ideas. It was only the marginally talented who repeatedly stole, because their hoard of ideas was limited, and they knew their last idea could well have been their actual last idea.
Got the (original) idea?