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Not Invented Here!

Most of the best ideas and innovations were probably not invented by your company [source]. So why, I wonder, do organisations persist in trying to redo something that already exists? Is it pride (we are clever enough to do it? Vanity (will others think we aren't good enough)? Fear (will the vendor/sub-contractor take away our business)? Whatever the reasons, it is almost always going to end up more expensive, take longer, and probably be less good, than using an already-made solution. That's not to say the solution might need to be modified for your particular problem, issue or need - but the building blocks are already there.

Our latest newsletter [source] shows several robotic technologies from our Ideas Catalog that are very similar to each other and it wonders if money (and time) couldn't be better spent on something else.

So, is there any good reason for doing things yourself? Well, it is unlikely to save you money even if purchasing the product seems expensive. But it might be a strategic decision to build a capability. Not simply to copy one thing but to improve skills, leaning and knowledge within the organisation for a whole area of interest. In that case, it should be a conscious decision to do something yourself though there are other ways of achieving the same objective of course such as Open Innovation.

I have stayed away from the obvious legal aspects of simply copying someone else's designs and ideas. IP protection can be expensive to arrange and challenging violation more so. However, what is more straightforward is plagiarism - where the organisation takes someone else's work and passes it off as their own. It does not take much to reference the source of the idea or design.