101 Activities For Teaching Creativity And Problem Solving

(Joyce) #1
101 Activities for Teaching Creativity and Problem Solving.Copyright © 2005 by John Wiley &
Sons, Inc. Reproduced by permission of Pfeiffer, an Imprint of Wiley. http://www.pfeiffer.com

3. Copy Cat

One of the first things school children learn is “do your own work.” They’re also told that
they’ll never learn anything if they copy from someone else. “Besides, the person you
copy from may be wrong. So keep your eyes on your own paper!”
Although this may be good advice in school, it hasn’t always held up well in the
world of work. In fact, many businesses make a practice of copying other companies.
Taken to the extreme, this practice can result in copyright and trademark violations as
greedy people try to profit from outright ripoffs. Rolex watches, for example, frequently
are copied by unscrupulous companies trying to make a quick buck with an unlicensed
By definition, copying someone else’s idea is not a creative act. There’s nothing origi-
nal about an idea that is exactly the same as another. Although some people argue that a
product is creative if it is new to the creator, this logic loses its appeal in the workplace.
If another organization is already marketing an idea, you lose “creativity points” if
you attempt to market the same idea. The true innovator is the organization that
designed, developed, and brought to market the idea. Copy an idea and you’re following
the leader. Moreover, research has shown that companies that market an idea first are
more likely to achieve competitive advantage and an overall greater market share. (The
same general principles of innovation apply also to nonprofit and government organiza-
Does the fact that copying an idea has negative consequences mean that copying is a
bad business practice? The answer is yes and no. It’s bad if you copy directly without per-
mission; it’s good if you use another idea only for stimulation. Copying can help if you
use only a basic concept or principle from someone else’s idea. That’s where the Copy Cat
technique comes in.

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