Monday, April 23, 2007

Who Owns Your Ideas?

One of the lists I read has had a huge debate about how do you deal with individuals who steal your work. I think it is fitting to address this in a leadership context. Leaders should have a set of principles for how they deal with others people's stuff.. and how they deal with others who take their stuff. There are typically two schools.. The Disney School: procecute anyone that infringes on your stuff; and the Red Hat Rule: The Open Source Movement. Much of life is about balance. Here are some principles I live by that help me balance the two:

Principle 1 - People who steal are lazy.. They are not your competition.. they will not take your market share.. If they steal from you, their clients will soon learn they steal from them as well.

Principle 2 - Even good people do things that are wrong. They need to know the boundaries. They need to be warned. It is best done up front, before they copy or use your work.

Principle 3- People want me for what I can do for them. Not just the words I write, but the experience and knowledge behind them. You can't steal me from me..

Principle 4 - People deserve credit for their contributions. Leaders never use someone's work with out attributing. Scholars need to know what your writing is built on.. who came before you.

Principle 5 - If you give something away... it will multiply and be returned to you... Every time I have given a colleague something, I have been rewarded..

Principle 6 - New ideas are built on other ideas. Be careful what you claim as your own.. you may learn someone else owns part of it. Refer to Principle 3!

Principle 7 - Over the long term, stealing never pays off! Over the long term, sharing always does.

I would be interested in your thoughts. Would you omit any of these principles? Would you add any new ones? Or, maybe you just want to improve one of these principles....

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