It always amuses me when I encounter someone who likes to think their ideas are like their poker cards. They keep these ideas close to their chests, only revealing them if the game seems winnable and sometimes folding their cards (ideas) if the odds are against them. But improvement and innovation is not like poker, it's not something that needs secrecy, carefulness, caution. You need to share your ideas, set them free to thrive or die.
If we jump out to the world of online startups, my view is similar to that of Chris Dixon, the co-founder/CEO of Hunch, which was acquired by Ebay. Chris is a private investor in lots of online companies (such as Skype, Foursquare, OMGPOP - lucky him!) and should know a thing or two about ideas.
In this blog post Chris talks about how at events he's frequently asked by young entrepreneurs if they should keep their idea a secret. His standard reply is an emphatic - "talk to anyone who will listen, the more the better".
What's the risk anyway?
You see, there's actually very little risk in revealing your cards, both in terms of startup ideas and internal company improvement ideas. The worst thing that can happen is someone doesn't rate your idea very highly. Or they start analyzing and pulling it apart mercilessly. That mightn't sound like fun but at least you've released the idea out to where it might develop into something that reaps rewards. Or else -what's the point of having ideas at all?
Healther Saunders; ECITB Product Dev. ManagerBook a Demo