What If Another IT Manager Just Copied Your Great Innovative Idea?

Hey wait! He just copied your idea…!
Hey wait! He just copied your idea…!

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As an IT manager, you are always looking to use your IT manager skills to create innovative ways to do your job. If you can come up with new or different ways for your team to get their work done, then there is a good chance that your management will notice you and either a raise, a promotion, or both will be coming your way. However, we don’t live and work in a vacuum – there is always the chance that just when you’ve come up with a great new idea, another IT manager at your company may roll out the same innovation with their team. What’s an IT manager to do?

No Ideas Are Original

“Hey, he / she stole my idea” Well, actually not. There are really no new ideas. What happens is that we all have a set of circumstances and events that we encounter and our minds process them and all of sudden we have a break-through idea.

What we need to understand is that while we are doing all of this, everyone else is out there having their own set of experiences and, more often than we’d care to admit, having their very own personal break-through ideas. It’s only natural that every so often our novel ideas will be very similar to their novel ideas.

Having the idea is not the big deal. What is going to matter is how you use your IT manager training to go about implementing your great idea. Another IT manager may have had the same idea, but they’ll probably implement it differently than you will.

Differences Do Matter

So let’s say that the worst thing imaginable has happened: just as you get ready to implement your brand-new idea, you discover that another IT manager is doing the exact same thing. Hold on, they are NOT doing the exact same thing.

Yes, yes – they may be doing something that is similar to what you are doing, but it is not exactly the same. What this means for you is that you now have some homework to do. You are going to have to figure out what the differences between what you are planning on doing and what they are doing will be.

Remember, the key to making your solution stand out is to take the time to highlight what makes it different. This can be your attitude, the humor that you and your team bring to the table, the tools that you use, or how you interact with your end customers. Once you find out what makes your solution different, build on it and make it stand out.

Keep A Close Watch

This is a delicate issue. Yes, you should keep an eye on that other IT manager. Since they are trying to implement a solution that is very similar to yours, any problems or challenges that they run into are ones that you’ll probably encounter. Watch and learn.

However, don’t watch them too closely. What you are going to be doing is unique. You don’t want to just copy what they are doing or you’ll run the risk of implementing a duplicate of their solution.

What you are going to want to do is to find new insights and new ideas. Once you do this, you can work them into your solution and you will have done something that is very different from what the other IT manager has done.

It’s All About Competition

It can be all too easy to focus on that other IT manager and to try to create a solution that outshines him or her. However, you really need to keep an eye on the big picture. Your team’s biggest competition may not be coming from your direct competition, but rather from indirect sources.

When you keep your eyes open and understand that the solution that your team is putting in place may be made obsolete by other factors, then you’ll be able to get inspiration from other sources. Learn from other projects that are going on and see if you can apply any of their insights to your solution in order to make it even better.

What All Of This Means For You

IT managers are always looking for better, faster ways to get their team’s work done. Sometimes this involves IT team building, sometimes it involves implementing new and innovative ideas. All too often, just when you’ve come up with an innovative idea for how your team can accomplish more, some other IT manager will have the same idea. Should you just throw your hands up and walk away?

The answer is, of course, no. Instead you need to realize no idea that you’ve had was never really unique. Of course other people were going to have similar ideas. Realize that how you were planning on implementing your idea is different from how the other manager has done it. Your way may be better. Don’t get too focused on the other IT manager – keep coming up with new ideas. Finally, don’t get too focused on trying to beat other IT manager, make sure that you are still meeting your end customer’s needs.

Innovation is a tricky thing. We all think that we are the only ones who can come up with the next “killer idea”. In truth, other people are having their own great ideas all the time. When someone else has an idea that is similar to yours, go ahead with your idea and discover how it is different from the other IT manager’s idea. Remember, your company needs a lot of innovation in order to be successful and your idea is part of what is going to make them be more successful!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think having a talk with the other IT manager would provide you with any benefits?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

One of the challenges of being an IT manager is that often we get very little IT manager training before we find ourselves being thrust into this position. We may have the IT manager skills needed to do the job, but we may not have the experience. The most important thing that we need to do is to avoid making mistakes. However, before we can do that, we need to know what the most common IT manager mistakes look like…