Inventors Lab . . . The NIH Syndrome
A Horrible Disease
Have you experienced NIH? Many inventors are stricken with a horrible disease we call the Not Invented Here Syndrome. It’s horrible because it causes blindness, irrational reactions and stunts inventive growth. This disease, when present, will manifest itself when someone offers an opinion or suggestion about an invention.
Of course, there are varying degrees of the infliction. They range from mild to severe, so the outcome or the reaction is also present in the varying degrees. Be aware, this disease is can get far more acute when pressures for decisions are present.
How do I know if I have it?
NIH Syndrome is first evidenced with a knot in your stomach — you know the one — when someone criticizes your invention and you become instantly defensive. It’s a natural reaction, and we all experience it from time to time. It’s not the momentary reaction that is so bad, but it is a warning sign. NIH becomes destructive when you react to those critics and shut out their input — thus blinding yourself to potential free improvement ideas.
In my experience, NIH strikes for 2 reasons: First, when someone blasts your invention without really understanding what you’ve invented. Second, and much more concerning, when someone offers an insight that is actually pretty good — and something you probably should have seen. Yet, because you’re emotionally connected to the thing YOU invented, it hits that possessive nerve and causes an irrational reaction because YOU didn’t think of it.
Don’t laugh, I’ve seen it many times. I’ve been on the suggestion end when giving input to inventors that have come for help, and it’s always sort of funny that they would ask for help then react emotionally when I give it. Oh well. That’s why we call it the Not Invented Here Syndrome.
Don’t Silence The Critics
Truly, NIH is sad on every side. We can’t stop the critical spouting of the uninformed, but we really do need to learn from the insights — so embrace them to your advantage. Even the ignorant can point out ideas of value to you, the inventor. The closed-minded condition of NIH shuts down absorption of free and valuable input. If the invention can’t stand up to criticism, how will it succeed in the marketplace? Also, if you can’t take suggestions, how can you succeed in getting the item to the marketplace?
This whole discussion about the Not Invented Here disease makes it sound so totally irrational. And it is! Why then, do so many inventors suffer with it? That’s the Million Dollar question. It’s because we’re emotional creatures, and we tend to tie ourselves to things we like (a sports team, or a brand), things we know (our city, friends, etc.), and, in this case, the things we invent. When someone acts contrary to our emotional approvals, we balk. That may make fun bantering about sports, but it’s not healthy for inventions.
The Best Medicine
You carry the remedy with you. The best medicine for NIH is a healthy dose of teeth on the tongue. Yes, I mean bite your tongue and listen. Every critic has a point of view, and when it comes to your new idea, pay attention. Yes, Listen, even if you don’t like what they say.
Embrace all the free input you get. Some will be garbage, and some like gold. Judge that AFTER you consider what others have to say. You never know what value an off-comment may have. Also, Don’t make radical changes based on one opinion. Consider all opinions with a grain of sense. It will make your product better, and if it succeeds, it will make you richer.
Real power comes in the ability to digest the comments and criticisms, then quietly sort the garbage from the gems. Little nuggets of insight, wherever they may come from, will make your invention better. Critics don’t even need to know they are assisting you in the inventive process.
Those who rise above the Not Invented Here Syndrome, NIH, are miles (and dollars) ahead in the end. Why would you want to do anything less?
As a side note, inventors stricken with NIH Syndrome are hard to work with. If you are sorely vexed with the dreaded disease, please don’t ask us for help. 🙂 We’ve seen some great inventions go down in flames because of NIH. You can be stronger than that. Rise above it.
Not Invented Here
That’s a pretty difficult insinuation. Don’t let it be the way others think of you. You have the power to overcome, and as above, you will benefit from escaping the syndrome. Instead, let people say of you — those are the best inventions!