Who Cares Whose Idea it Was? Why People Love Your Idea Much Better if They Thought of it First

We like to get credit for our great ideas. It’s natural.

We all like to think our ideas are the best, most clever, and best fitting ones. Generally speaking, of course.

And that’s why we should try to give that experience to the people we are trying to influence or convince or co-create with. Because they’ll be more likely to get on board with the idea if it’s something they thought of. Or at least helped shape.

Idea ownership is overrated. Idea implementation is Better.

There's a risk to being too emotionally attached to the ownership credit for great ideas when you're trying to work with others to solve a problem.

Other people also like to feel like the solution was their idea. That makes them less likely to like your idea, whatever it is. It fails to meet their need for ownership and influence. The solution they will prefer is the one that was their idea, regardless of what the idea is.

But… but… it was MY idea! No fair!

I know, you don’t say that. But I bet that might be going through your reptilian, less sophisticated emotional brain.

But let’s think about it as rationally as possible: you want a good solution. And you want it to be implemented. And you want the change to 'stick'.

As I see it, you have four possible options:

Option A:  You tell the other person or people your idea, and hold on to the ownership of the idea. The other person may reject it or lack commitment to implement it simply because it was YOUR idea and not theirs. End result: your good idea doesn't get a chance to work.

Option B: You ask the other person or people what their ideas are, and listen. The idea they come up with is identical or very similar to your idea. But it's THEIR idea, and they like it and are committed to implementing it. And therefore it gets applied, and solves the problem.

Option C: You ask the other person or people what their ideas are, and listen. The ideas they come up with are different from yours, and you like them even better! You now have the opportunity to solve the problem even faster, or more cheaply, or more effectively or efficiently than before you spoke with them. And the solution is implemented fully because it was THEIR idea and they’re committed to it.

Option D: You ask the other person or people for their ideas and you don't like what they offer. You say something like, "Yes, that's one possible approach, and how about this other one [insert your idea]?" Now you are discussing the merits and collaborating on a solution that will work for everyone. But you are co-creating the approach through collaborative efforts and the other person or people feel involved in the solution-creation process. They have a sense of ownership and commitment of the co-developed outcomes. They implement them fully.

Successfully-implemented solutions are the Best solutions.

Good ideas that never got to see the light of day – those are a dime a dozen.

So what's better in the long-run: keeping the idea credit while not solving the problem or the solution not being fully-implemented or carried out? Or letting the other party feel ownership of the idea, and therefore the solution implementation, and both of you enjoying having the problem fully resolved?

Think about it!

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