People are awfully protective of their ideas (myself definitely included). There are plenty of reasons for not sharing ideas:
- we’re afraid people won’t like them, or worse, won’t understand them.
- someone might steal them
- they might, in reality, be total crap
- they’re hard to explain, especially when the proverbial ink is still dry in the mind
- etc., etc., etc.
But the biggest fear I have of sharing ideas is losing control.
There is an awful lot of ego that gets attached to our ideas, (see: the God Complex), and the thought of losing that grip is crippling.
One of the most intoxicating aspects of having an idea is having control over the idea. We thrive on building, planning, analyzing, almost anything but actually doing.
It’s not just little companies or amateurs that struggle with letting go. Some of the biggest companies in the world suffer from these “idea insecurities” listed above.
Microsoft’s Decline In Innovation
I read an
interesting sad article about the causes of the downward spiral of Microsoft’s innovation. For the past ten years, Microsoft has been playing catch-up to companies like Google and Apple. Instead of creating breakthrough products that once made the software giant famous, the company has relied on a monkey-see, monkey-do approach to production.
The article goes on to explain that the top brass at Microsoft were directly responsible for the void of innovation, simply by harboring the fears listed above. Products were never made because of petty differences between divisions. The main reason for the lack of innovation was the stubbornness of division heads to work together on technologies.
They were afraid of losing their ideas in favor of someone else’s better idea.
Letting Go of the Idea
Some people never understand that if they hand over control of the original idea, something better might come out of it. Flickr was set to be a gaming company until the founders discovered a really efficient way to serve photos. There are plenty of examples of this happening throughout history.
Letting go is one of the absolute hardest concepts to grasp as an entrepreneur. But sometimes our idea outgrows us. The trick is to swallow the thick pride and embrace the potential of what could happen.
If the powerful suits at Microsoft had put aside petty differences and allowed other departments to improve their products, who knows what Microsoft would be today. They might have had a Google killer, or the iPod. We’ll never know.
This wasn’t an excuse to single out Microsoft. Every single company and entrepreneur deals with control issues at some point. I know I have. The important thing is recognizing when we’re holding on a bit too tightly on what’s “ours” and not recognizing the full potential of the idea, with the help of others.
Photo by chavals