Your idea is the cheapest thing you own.

Decoupling secrecy and ideas is the first step towards actually getting something done.

Steve Berry


Nov 9, 2016

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One of the most frustrating things: “idea people” that find themselves instantly reluctant to share these golden idea nuggets. Talking to a lot of different entrepreneurs, product innovators and businesses in general, the typical story goes:

“I have a great idea, but I can’t talk about it until you sign this NDA.”

Cue instant frustration for a product consultant such as myself. Over the past ten years of consulting, I have a large surface area of product conversations. I instantly think, “Is this idea valuable enough to sign an NDA?”

If you haven’t communicated the idea to me yet, the value of the concept is zero. Why should I sign a legally binding agreement, for something without understood worth? Being in the business of making ideas reality, contracts like this can become risky very quickly.

Ideas aren’t worth that much on their own. Even the most brilliant idea is just a starting point, not something magical. A significantly compromised but executed design is infinitely more valuable than an abstract notion in mental isolation.

It’s how you execute the idea that has the value. Execution takes a lot of resources - money, time, passion, and relationships.

Instead of obsessing about your ideas in a hidden abstract way, focus on bringing them out into the real world. You need to see if they are resilient enough to stand up to the real world. If your fragile idea’s success relies on absolute secrecy now, how do you expect it to stand up to the carnivorous waters of capitalism?

Ideas want to be free. Decoupling secrecy and ideas is the first step towards actually getting something done. You only have everything to gain.