Choose: Credit or Influence

When I started at Lockheed Research in 1985, my mentor was a veteran who explained his secret for getting funding from the other Lockheed divisions:

Find an idea for a project we could do for them, but don’t tell them the idea.  Instead break the idea into a few key parts, describe the parts to them, and let them put the parts together into the total idea.  They will be much more willing to fund a project that is their idea. 

Some advise academics not to post working papers, as others might steal your ideas.  Many fiction writers are afraid editors will steal their ideas.  Many are afraid that venture capitalists will steal their business idea instead of funding their team. 

Howard Aiken said "Don’t worry about people stealing an idea. If it’s original, you will have to ram it down their throats."  I don’t think it is quite that simple – people can and do steal ideas.  But if what you want is influence, instead of credit, the choice should be easy: you should want people to steal your ideas.  So think about it: how much do you or should you care about credit, versus influence? 

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