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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Credit Snatching October 17, 2008

Posted by dapinoyemployee in Da Pinoy Employee, Working with Bosses and Officemates.
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Credit snatching, idea poaching or glory-grabbing are just euphemisms for an ugly reality in a work environment called idea theft.  But should you really sound the alarm and raise a ruckus?  Here are some things you might want to know before you start accusing someone of credit snatching:

The Good
They say that imitation is the greatest compliment.  If someone steals your ideas, then it must be something really great.  If for nothing else, you should be proud that someone else thought your idea was amazing enough to pass off as their own.  That is, if and when you’re given due credit.

The Bad
Before you ever complain about someone stealing your credit, make sure it was really yours to begin with.  Don’t make empty claims about something that you thought of a few nights ago and that an officemate suddenly used for his/her presentation during a department meeting.  Just because you thought of something doesn’t automatically make you its owner.  Otherwise, hundreds of thousands of people around the world would have to be paid royalties for the idea of solar-powered appliances.

Unless you can prove that you have the plan or procedure or source of an idea, you had better keep your mouth shut.  The fact is that you might have thought of something but someone else beat you to it.  It’s like naming a new supernova.  You and your neighbor might have seen it at the same time but he reported it first, so he gets the credit.

If, however, it really was your idea, then be ready to prove yourself. 

The Ugly
Trying to prove that your boss or officemate stole your credit can be very challenging and intimidating in most respects.  If you can’t prove it, you’ll come off as delusional.  If they are too arrogant and unapologetic, then you’re in for a tough battle ahead.

And of course, there’s the huge IF when it comes to proving who deserves the credit.  Maybe you felt like you did a pretty good job at creating an idea or the procedures that would outline the idea and bring it to life. 

But what about your boss or officemate?  What if they did have a considerable contribution to making your idea a success?  What if your idea is just a small cog in the great big machine that your boss or officemate has created?  Wouldn’t it be like claiming credit for the success of a sticky chocolate brownie fudge ice cream flavor just because you provided the cow who gave the milk?

The bottomline: Accusing someone of credit snatching is a very serious allegation.  Before you even open your mouth to complain, make sure that the idea/proposal/plan/presentation is really, genuinely, unequivocally yours.  After all, there is a big difference between being a creator and an innovator.  If you just adapted an original idea and tweaked it, then the one in your hands right now cannot be considered ‘original’.  And by the way, you ought to give credit to the one who inspired you.

If you don’t have the proof or a reliable witness, bummer for you.  In the end, it will all be your word against someone else’s.  Should this happen, chalk it up to bad experience and be careful about safeguarding and documenting your precious (and original) ideas next time.

P.S.
If you must raise hell and high water regarding an idea, make sure it’s a good one.  It can be soooo embarrassing to go ballistic about something that would later prove to be a dud.

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