Steal Someone’s Idea

I’ve been reading Decisive by the Heath brothers today and have really enjoyed it. We have been a lot of conversations about how to make decisions and I’m always open to new ideas to try and improve my leadership. However, one of the chapters really stood out because it’s something we have done at UVA and encourage others to do.

Steal other people’s ideas.


I have the fundamental belief that there are enough ideas out there that I’m probably not the first person to come up with my “original” ideas,

Because of this, I believe that there are other organizations and other people who have been in the situation I’m in now, they just got there before I did.

So, I should see what they did that worked, adapt it for my situation and steal it.

I would also take it a step further and say that you should recognize people or organizations that are in your field and are further down the path than you are and open lines of communication with them. Ask them questions about where they were, what they did that worked, and what they did that didn’t. This way you can decrease your probability of failure and even learn some new ideas that you may not have thought of before.

The Heath brothers tell the story of Sam Walton (the WalMart guy) who said the he got the checkout idea from Ben Franklin stores and said that he had probably been to more Kmarts than any other person in the world. He knew he could learn from those who were further down the road than he was.

I think this brings up a great point of taking visits to these places and being with them. See what it looks like when the rubber meets the road and how it all plays out. It could be a very worthwhile investment.

It takes a great deal of humility to do this. I think this is one of the reasons people aren’t willing to do it. You have to let go of control, admit that other people are smarter than you and ask for their help.

It also takes some grunt work to do some research.

All of my experience says that when you can build these relationships and ask those who are further down the road, good things happen and you continue to advance a bit at a time.

So, who are the people or the organizations that you should look to for advice?


1 Comment

Filed under Book Review, Chi Alpha, Leadership

One response to “Steal Someone’s Idea

  1. I’m excited about this for two reasons: I didn’t know the Heath brothers wrote another book (big fan of the first two). and I’m all about stealing people’s ideas. That sounds wrong when you say it out loud – or type it.
    I manage a small (300 unit) off-campus student housing facility where we’re surrounded by mammoth places with marketing budgets the size of our total revenue. In order to help us compete, we save money on training by sending our leasing teams to shop them in undercover fashion and have them come back and report what they liked/didn’t like. Their own tours become better by picking up on the tricks the larger places paid to teach their own people. It’s small, but it plays to turn your weaknesses into strengths.

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