Sharing ideas means other people can show you your blind spots. Furthermore, overvaluing ideas makes us more likely to hold on to them, which in turn makes us more rigid to new and potentially contradictory evidence that might tell us to go in a different direction. Finally, idea fetishization blinds us to what’s really important — actually doing something useful with the idea! Ideas are easy, execution is hard.
In a world of inevitable simultaneous discoveries, there is no point to keeping most things secret. In fact, holding ideas close to one’s vest comes with unforeseen costs. For example, not sharing your insights frequently and widely means missing out on feedback. Most of the bad startup ideas I hear are bad not because they’re under threat of someone’s stealing the idea, but because the founder doesn’t know what he or she doesn’t know.
People tend to believe ideas are rare things, gems to be collected and hoarded. But in fact the nature of creative work, be it corporate innovation, academic research, or artistic endeavor, tells us quite the opposite — that if a useful insight pops into your head, it’s most likely in other people’s minds as well.