ideaprintThis month’s #Ideachat (organized by Angela Dunn on Twitter) was guest hosted by author Jennifer Louden and focused on the extent to which people either claim or hide borrowing ideas from others. Jumping in late, the group was addressing topics such as the impact on your creativity of others borrowing your creative ideas and whether ideas can be “owned” in this day and age.

On the former topic, my response was it all depends on who borrowed the creative idea, if I wanted them to borrow it, & whether they matched up my ideas or content with other people. If they put me in good company, that can be quite a kick.

If you’re really intent on getting something done and think you have a creative idea to realize positive change, the best thing that can happen is others claiming ownership of your ideas. Maybe you accomplish this by being obvious and blatantly saying, “Here, TAKE MY IDEA!” Often though, you have to be much more subtle and kind of leave your creative idea “mentally” laying around for others to find and claim . . . much like they might pick a coin up off the ground and consider it found money.

Leave Your Ideaprints on a Creative Idea

As the #Ideachat group discussed idea ownership, my response was that in the world of social media, it seems you own an idea by being able to point to your first use and predominant sharing of it. I cited Joe Pulizzi and content marketing as a prime example. Joe put a term to the concept, developed it, and shared it for others to expand upon it. What was important was it was readily apparent Joe Pulizzi was the first person everyone remembers talking about content marketing as an idea.

As I tweeted during #Ideachat, when you put an idea out there for others to use, it’s a good idea to leave your “ideaprints” all over it, just as Joe did.

Just like finerprints, ideaprints are indicators you had your brain all over an idea before releasing it into the world. Maybe the idea was yours originally. Maybe you adapted the idea from something else. Either way, if you’ve added value to an idea, your ideaprints signal your brain touched the idea somewhere (ideally early) in its life.

I’m sure Seth Godin has written about something like ideaprints, and there’s a marketing company using the name, but here some ideas for how to place your ideaprints on an idea:

  1. Secure the typical and appropriate legal protections available - copyright, trademark, patent
  2. Develop a unique or at least distinctive name to describe the idea
  3. Frequently use the distinctive name you created online and in other places
  4. Develop your idea into a more fully fledged concept
  5. Author a great deal of content about the idea that continues to expand on, describe, and make it more usable by others
  6. Make it easy for others to advance the idea whether in total or in part
  7. Create an organization that embodies your idea
  8. Cultivate a group of people who will point back to you when others ask them where they heard of the idea
  9. License the idea to others

There are definitely more ways to leave ideaprints, but amid our #Ideachat conversation, those were the first ones that came to mind.

Making It Obvious Your Brain Was All Over a Creative Idea

I think being adept at leaving ideaprints on your most important ideas is an important skill to hone.

One of the last #Ideachat topics covered whether challenges in attributing ideas in the 21st century will lead to more or less creativity. My answer was it depends on the attitude people have toward ideas. People who spend their time chasing down others to protect their ideas will spend a lot less time on generating ideas and a disproportionate amount of time on idea protection.

Far better to spend much of your time coming up with ideas, a little time being more obvious with your ideaprints, and most of your time making things happen with your ideas – whether it’s you or others doing big things with them! – Mike Brown

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