Dealing with Idea Theft in a Workplace

Dealing with Idea Theft in a Workplace

Ever since we started this series, I have been telling you to sell your ideas and how to do a good job of selling your ideas. However, for many people, their concern is theft of their ideas. That’s why on Career Exploits this week, I want to show you how to deal with idea theft in your workplace.

Valid Concern for Idea Theft

Your concern for your idea theft is valid because you are not selling your ideas for the fun of it; you want to achieve something tangible in your department or organization with the acceptance and implantation of the ideas. You conceived the idea and, to a very large extent, you understand it more than any other person in your organization.


When someone high jacks your ideas, the risk is poor description to the authorities and weak implementation when it gets approve. So, beyond your idea conception is the need to protect it from being stolen or high jacked by people who lack the capacity or willingness to execute it.


Your ideas have the capacity to give you company-wide recognition, respect among your peers and superiors and shot you to the top of the organization. Even if you don’t know this, some people do and are on the lookout for ideas with potentials to hijack or steal so as to take the glory. If it matters to you to shield people from doing this to you, then you should do all that you can to ensure you don’t lose your ideas to opportunists.


Your Idea Theft May Give you Boost

Now, as I show you how to deal with this, I want you to first understand that sometimes, idea theft or gift will work in your best interest. If you work in a department and sell or gift your supervisor or head of department your idea, he may take it to the management without acknowledging you and take all the glory. As much s you feel bad for not being recognised, I want you to know that this may work for your long term good than the glory you would have received from the idea.


See, your boss needs your mental and physical input to shine and rise. Apart from doing the work assigned to you, you have an unwritten duty to share any idea you have that will move the organization forward. That’s why you have to gift your superior ideas as often as possible. Don’t worry about being recognized or not; it’s not as important as doing that noble job of being a blessing to your boss and your organization.


Meanwhile, if your organization is structured in a way that whatever suggestion you have to flow from the head of your unit or department to the management, you have to take it to her first. You just can’t jump the steps. If you do, you will present yourself as being ambitious with plan to outshine your boss. The consequence could be devastating to your public image in the organization and possibility of rising in your company.


My dear, do put in your best, task yourself, study and observe enough to ensure that there is regular flow of quality ideas from you to your boss or superior. Don’t bother yourself about his stealing the glory; that’s his flaw.


Many people will be discouraged from sharing ideas that can move their organization forward simply because they were not encouraged or rewarded. When you become a boss or leaders, please don’t do like them and ensure you don’t shut out the possible flow of ideas in your direction from your staff or subordinate by not given them credit.


Meanwhile, even if he doesn’t give you credit for your ideas publicly; believe me, he does in his mind. In fact, the ideas you sell to him is, to an extent, your way of selling your resourcefulness and depth of understating to him. He will consult you in the execution, he will recommend you and invite you for collaborations in the areas you have demonstrated depth of understanding through your series of suggestions.


And if he never does nko?


Life has a way of presenting us with opportunities we are best suited to maximize; so, concentrate on developing capacity by exercising yourself in idea generation and sharing. You will be rewarded on day!

Protecting Your Idea from Theft

Now, when you choose not to allow your supervisor take the glory for your ideas and want to ensure that management recognizes your ideas, what you can do is to send a copy of your idea to your boss and supervisor at the same time. That way, even when your supervisor wants to present your ideas as his, the management will recognize it that you have sent it earlier.


Another thing you can do is keep your ideas and only sell it when, at least, another person can see or hear you as a witness. I wouldn’t do this if I were in your shoes; but if you choose to tow that path, know that it will do you more harm than good in the long run.


However, if you want to protect your ideas from your peers, I have no issues with that. Just keep the document away from them and be careful who you give access to your device and the files you allow it to be on your company computer. The easiest way to keep away from your colleague is to use your personal jotter, computer or laptop to write your ideas.  And even when you have to use your device and note, you can scribble it in letters and words that will be completely incoherent to any other human aside you.

When Your Idea Theft Security Fails

Now, with all your efforts at protecting your ideas from theft, I want you to know that it can still be stolen by your peers or high jacked by your superiors. Don’t be scared that I tell you this; I just want you to learn how to deal with this properly.


I understand that it will pain you when your supervisor highjacks your ideas without giving you any credit for coming up with it. I understand how it feels when your colleague takes your idea, refurbish it and move faster than you to sell it as his. Please take heart and wipe you tears. Many people have gotten bitter because of an incident like this and only remained in their company without being relevant; please don’t tow their path.


However, as disappointing as it is, I will like you to get over it as fast as possible. You need to get over it fast so that you can mentally and emotionally collaborate to bring the idea to birth. Your idea thief by be a thief at heart; but the best he can do is steal your ideas; not your destination.  As for your reward, you will get it in full measure!

Your Idea Reward is Intact

At the risk of sounding religious, please know that God is your true master not your boss. Your organization is your channel for serving God and your boss is his agent for rewarding you. When I feel cheated in your workplace or someone seem to deny me an elevation, I remind myself this infallible truth that true promotion doesn’t come from man but God. He brings down person to lift up another.


Get over the pains of betrayal and disappointment and go about the idea execution with all your heart and skill.  My key workplace guiding principle is the words of Apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians church.


“Slaves, you must obey your earthly masters. Show them great respect and be as loyal to them as you are to Christ. Try to please them at all times, and not just when you think they are watching. You are slaves of Christ, so with your whole heart you must do what God wants you to do.  Gladly serve your masters, as though they were the Lord himself, and not simply people.  You know that you will be rewarded for any good things you do, whether you are slaves or free. (Eph 6:5-8 CEV)  



In your work, you are serving God and He will pay you in due season. He sees your heart and every good thing you did will be duly rewarded; even when your boss doesn’t see it. Just go ahead and share your ideas, protect it as much as possible and don’t lose sleep if someone steals your idea.  Your reward is with God and He no dey do wayo.


My point?


Your fear of idea theft is real. However, know that regular flow of quality idea from your boss will work for your good in the long run. When you choose to protect your idea from your peers that may steal it, do ensure you secure where you write it and try jotting it in words, language or handwriting that the idea thief will find incoherent. Know that true reward for sharing your idea is with God and he checks your heart and actions to give you the reward you truly deserve.

My name is Joseph ‘Brojid’ Dinwoke. On Career Exploits, I share insight that will help discover your true career, get equipped and do exploits in it. You will get fresh career insight on Brojid World every Tuesday and every day on Career Exploits page on Facebook.

Ifeanyi Dinwoke

Ifeanyichukwu 'Brojid' Dinwoke is a Media Strategist, Web Developer & Book Publisher. At Brojid World, he creates blog, podcast, and book that inspire you for peak performance in life and work. He is madly in love with Chidinma Eberechukwu (@chidinmadinwoke) who agreed to be the wife of his youth!

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