Why imitating great ideas works


  • August 27, 2015
  • /   Rachael Gillette
  • /   training-development

Imitation of a good idea can be even more valuable than innovation.

That is the premise of Oded Shenkar’s article, “Defend Your Research: Imitation is More Valuable Than Innovation.” In fact, research showed “imitators often overshadowed innovators” and that close to 98 percent of the value of innovations goes to imitators.

That theory echoes a key principle of Quint Studer’s “The Great Employee Handbook. ” In the “Handbook,” Studer explains why best practices are so valuable and that harvesting and implementing great ideas across organizations saves time and effort.

“They keep us from having to reinvent the wheel,” Studer writes. “Implementing techniques and processes that have already been proven to work decreases the amount of time we have to spend figuring out and solving problems. It’s so much more effective than trying to start from scratch.”

In fact, taking a great idea and imitating it well, developing it to work within your organization or department, can reap big rewards in cost saving and improved efficiency.

A best practice is a method or technique that has consistently shown superior results and can be used as a benchmark.

If an organization is going to be effective and consistently improve outcomes it’s important to have a system in place. So how does your company or organization seek out best practices?

If the answer didn’t leap to mind, try:

  • Figuring out what you do best and what others do better.
  • Looking for the next great way to do something. Look for inspiration within your organization, in industry and trade publications, in media reports, wherever you can find them.
  • Developing systems to consistently record, reward and recognize bright ideas and best practices.
  • Encouraging your employees to use initiative and share ideas about what works well. Make sure that your leaders are willing to listen actively to that input and collect ideas.

Communication and collaboration, combined with a relentless focus on desire to improve fuels excellence, even if it is imitation of a good thing.