Idea Ownership Cools Creativity


Your team needs to make an idea better before you can implement it.


If someone stakes a claim to that idea, no one else will really be interested in improving it, according to a study in The Journal of Applied Psychology.


Researchers had 230 students at a Singaporean university provide feedback on a marketing strategy proposal for a restaurant. Some students were given a “hands off” proposal, which included a covering letter with the line “although I am asking you for your input, I consider this to be my proposal, not yours.” Others weren’t given any such cover letter.


Students who looked at the “hands off” proposal didn’t have much to offer in the way of input—they provided mundane and straightforward advice, and less of it, than students who didn’t receive the “hands off” proposal. Other students offered more advice, better advice, more creative ideas, and later reported to researchers that they were more interested in the proposal.

The Takeaway

If you want other people to help with your idea, make it clear that it isn’t your idea—it seems that when an idea belongs to you, other people won’t really be interested in helping improve it.



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