Co-workers stealing ideas

Jacq Arch

My first lesson from my mentor was “always share what you learned. Architecture is a profession of constant learning and teaching”. I have always lived in by this motto, but now I’m put in a position where I believe the employers have created an environment where a persons merit is based on their next idea. 

For the weeks I’ve been working at this new place and i have mentioned a lot of ideas on how to improve how we conduct business with co-workers and for weeks I have noticed that co-workers repackaged those ideas and regurgitated it to the boss.

I’m not the type to yell out “that’s my idea” nor do I want to be the type of person that writes all my ideas in a book and hold on to them for the perfect moment, nor do I want to be left behinds 

Would appreciate any advice 

Aug 7, 19 10:55 am

Pitch your ideas directly to your boss. Don't get your colleagues involved at all. You can also steal their ideas if they 're good enough. 

Aug 7, 19 10:59 am

yeah that will make for a good team environment, just take your toys and retreat to another sandbox.... come on!


Hey, no bullying please. It's not my fault OP is weak.


Unfortunately seems like the office culture of where you are working this sort of thing is ok. In this case the boss does not notice or care if others are regurgitating your ideas to him. No point in bringing it up with him. It would just make you look unprofessional. Due to the specific office culture you described, seems like it is better to only disclose your ideas directly to the boss. If this completely drives you crazy look for another job.

Aug 7, 19 11:19 am

Also make sure others can't read your thoughts. 

Aug 7, 19 11:20 am

I'd look at this a little differently if I were you:  often if someone is new to a firm and they start giving a lot of ideas and advice about how that business can be improved, it's not received that well, especially by senior management or firm owners.  A lot of people feel a little offended, or at least dismissive, if someone with only weeks or months at their business felt they knew enough about it to improve it.  They might think that you should be quiet and observant for somewhat longer than that before you'd have much valid, useful input.  But in your case you're not only being listened to, your ideas are making it into implementation.  If that's your end goal then you're succeeding quite well. 

I'd set aside, for awhile, the idea that you need to get "credit" with the boss for these ideas.  One possibility is that your coworkers know that the ideas will be better received from them at this point, than they would if the boss knows they're coming from the new guy.  Another possibility is that this is an office with a culture of middlemen - i.e. the usual protocol is for newer and/or more entry-level people to communicate with more senior people, who communicate directly with the boss - but that it's not the custom for the lowest on the totem pole to go straight to the boss.  It's not going to go over well if you make a big thing out of whose idea anything was.  Over time you'll get a better feel for whether you can share your ideas directly with the boss, and how successful that is. It might be that you'll have better results continuing to let your coworkers do that for now.  Don't be in too much of rush to display merit - take the role of observer for now and learn how best to do that in this office.

Aug 7, 19 11:52 am

I agree with this response.

I agree with this response.

People who steal ideas are looking at short term gains. They eventually get found out. You should play the long game. Many supervisors know who has the good ideas.


Don't be so worried about it.  You have only been there a couple of weeks. You most likely haven't proven yourself to the degree that your ideas would merit serious consideration. Every new hire knows a different way, but most likely you don't have the history of why something is done a certain way, or your colleagues do not have the trust earned through time that would give the ideas gravitas when coming from you.  If anything you should be incredibly proud of this situation. You are having a positive influence. Your colleagues know this and if you brush it off and continue to be supportive of them that good will, will return to you. Chime in when the idea is presented by your colleague to say "I support that too" , "That has been my experience with X" , "That's also how we did it at Y".    

You're on a team. Act like it. 

Edited to say above beat me to it. But yeah same thing 

Aug 7, 19 11:52 am
Chad Miller

It's a slippery slope for sure.  As others have said it could be the office's culture and your coworker may be doing you favor.

I'd look at it like this, if your coworker is taking your ideas and presenting them as their own then that's a complement to you.  Also it means your coworker isn't creative / smart enough come up with ideas on their own.  If this is the case your bosses will notice this.

Aug 8, 19 9:52 am
Non Sequitur

So what were these ground-breaking ideas anyways?

Aug 8, 19 10:10 am
Chad Miller

Curved glass block.


Self-flushing toilets?


It better be sky hooks!

Non Sequitur

but what holds up the skyhooks?


Nobody ever asks what holds up the sky hooks.

Non Sequitur

Is it a larger sky hook?


Yes and then it's God holding the larger one.

Non Sequitur

but then, who holds god up? I bet it's some pretty nice pair of suspenders.


it's atlas non. Then he shrugged.


The church choir.

( o Y o )

sounds like a shitty place to work

Aug 8, 19 12:17 pm

I observed multiple people climb the ladder at one of the largest firms in the world by stealing others ideas.  They were never found out.

Aug 8, 19 12:48 pm
Chad Miller

Should have said something . . .


No one owns an idea.  You can't steal something someone does not have ownership of.  Being observant, able to recognize and execute on a good idea is the trademark of a competent manager.  

Aug 8, 19 4:35 pm
Chad Miller

You just say that because you've never had an independent creative idea.

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