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What I’ve learned about ideas

We don’t own them


“DIFFUSION: Sharing ideas” — Rat Design


Whose idea is it?


Why? Does it really matter?


My colleague, Steven Mc Auley, lived in a Hacker House in Palo Alto for a short time as he was exploring how Silicon Valley operates and how different that is from how firms in Europe operate. One of his main discoveries was that ideas were not hoarded, or protected, or owned, or hidden from others. They are shared — openly, constantly — and developed bit by bit by everyone they are shared with.


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When ideas stop growing

When ideas are not shared they stop growing. When ideas are prematurely judged, they stop developing. When ideas are not built upon, then innovation stops in its tracks.



A rule of the Design Thinking method is to defer judgment. That’s what most people in the Valley do every single day. An idea is shared immediately, as soon as it is thought of, it is developed further and grown, and thus if it doesn’t work it is quickly discarded. If it does work then people take action to implement it.


Everyone knows that ideas are worth nothing without implementation, so they have no hesitation in sharing them.


So we need to stop worrying about who owns an idea, or whether or not to share an idea.

Ideas need implementation to grow

When it comes to sharing an idea, especially with a person who tends to have very little time (boss, superstar, etc.), then taking time to define it and make it succinct is crucial to delivering it to a superior to get buy-in.


Answer three questions before you discuss the idea:

  1. What problem does the idea solve?

  2. Who does it solve the problem for?

  3. Why will people love the idea?

Once these questions are answered, then the idea must be shared far and wide. To keep developing the idea, to carry it forward and to implement it.


Ideas need trust and transparency

By sharing ideas and collecting feedback you can grow your ideas with your team. This can be difficult if trust or transparency is lacking within your team, but if you are in the midst of problem solving try these tips to help ideas grow.


  • Share your ideas

  • Trust your team to respect your idea

  • Reserve judgement when hearing ideas

  • Create time to share ideas with each other

  • Encourage others to build on the idea

  • Come back to it and take steps to implement it once you have agreed on it

Try blue sky thinking, sometimes the most outlandish ideas can grow into a feasible and interesting solution! But always share your ideas, that’s where innovation lives.


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Co-written by Steven Mc Auley & Raj Hayer


Instagram: TinyBox | Image Design: Rat Design | Innovators Journal

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