Why is it that technology Gurus and VC around the planet say that everybody can have ideas, but ideas by themselves have no value and if you don’t execute them then they are worthless. Furthermore, they promote that you openly share your ideas with others to make them better, without fearing they will “steal” them.
Though there is some relative small truth surrounding those words, I must point out that there is also strong arguments contradicting those unwritten laws.
In my opinion, IDEAS have an intrinsic and independent value by themselves. Then, it’s up to the people and circumstances involved to further enhance their base value.
For example the abstract IDEA that the circle shape concept can be applied to a material to produce wheels, which in turn can make another object move, has a tremendous value by itself.
Most of us could agree on the above statement, independently of the fact that we build the artifact or not. If you were a thinker in the beginnings of civilization you probably did not have the means or technology to produce such a device and your descendants would need to wait for centuries to see the first moving wonder . Still, the IDEA flies with its own wings.
I like to think of IDEAS as scientific formulas, written in paper seem worthless and innocent, but the knowledge they withhold can be highly powerful.
IDEAS have undoubtedly inspired philosophers and their followers for millenniums. Nobody would have dared to tell Aristotle or Plato that the ideas which had no immediate practical or business application had zero value.
Science is full of examples of theoretical mathematical work which had no practical application at the time it was developed, but solved a critical practical technology problem centuries later.
At the same time, we don’t have to be so naive to think that others cannot take advantage of our ideas and steal them, because we would be so wrong. History is also full of stories about inventors who shared ideas with others to improve them and got stolen.
Still not convinced? Please don’t force me to make this post longer by citing the full stories of Edison and how he stole Tesla’s ideas and dozens more from his employees or how history books attribute to Galileo the invention of the first telescope when in fact it was Hans Lippershey who applied for a patent first; not to mention the famous Apple vs. Microsoft GUI case, etc.
Still not convinced ?, don’t trust me and talk to your lawyer on IDEAS and IP protection rights.
I do support open forum discussions and brainstorming on general ideas to get positive input, but be aware of how much you disclose. Don’t forget that there are thousands of people that don’t have ideas of their own and are waiting for someone creative like you to come up with their next business. Many times those people do have the means and technology to make it happen, they just need your great idea.