A Co-worker Steals Your Idea

April 8, 2019

It happens. Doesn’t matter the industry sector, company, or complexity of work. But what do you do if a co-worker steals your idea? Let’s follow this scenario.

Emmett, despite his name, seems like an okay guy. He showed you the ropes when you started three months ago. The other guys seem good too, but more often than not, Emmett picks you up for lunch.

You think you’re getting the hang of the job and even have an idea you want to pitch to your boss (Len). But you want to bounce it off Emmett first to see if it’s likely to fly.

You: Hey, can I pick your brain?

Emmett: Sure, what’s up?

You: I want to pitch a new product to Len but I wanted to run it by you first. [You explain your Great Idea]

Emmett: Yeah, interesting. But I don’t know if Len will go for it.

You: Why not?

Emmett: (shrugs) It’s not really our market.

You: But that’s just the point—it will expand the appeal of the product.

Emmett: Yeah, but it would have to be a whole different marketing approach.

You: But wouldn’t it be worth it?

Emmett: (shakes his head) I dunno—Len’s been complaining lately about how tight we are for money. We may not even make our numbers this quarter. I don’t know that this is the right time to bring it up.

You: But do you think it might work?

Emmett: Hmmm—dunno. Would take a lot of development money and even then, might not work.

Doesn’t matter what the idea is and Emmett’s excuses could be any number of objections, but the bottom line is you go away, discouraged.

A week later, the staff meeting. Usual stuff, but as it’s winding down, Len says, “Just before we close, Emmett came up with a great thought. [And then explains YOUR idea!]. I’ve asked him to develop it further and we might have a whole new product.”

What do you do?

  1. Confront Emmett
  2. Complain to your boss, Len
  3. Nothing

I spend a post on each of these options

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