46% of ideas are pilfered by crafty colleagues looking to enhance their chances of a pay rise

Famous inventor Galileo may have introduced a lot of improvements to the telescope and utilised it for valuable astronomical observations, but contrary to belief, he didn’t invent it. While the history books noted that Galileo invented the telescope in 1609, Dutchman Hans Lippershey was already seeking to patent the device in 1608.

While neither men managed to gain a patent, Galileo’s name has now become synonymous with the telescope.

Then there’s Sir Alexander Fleming who “discovered” penicillin. Documents suggest that North African tribesmen have been using penicillin for thousands of years. And in 1897, Ernest Duchesne used the mould penicillum glaucoma to cure typhoid in guinea pigs. It was never put to “human” use, but it is proof that he understood the possibilities of what it could do. His theories were ignored because he was only 23 at the time.

Fleming happened to stumble across it and when he couldn’t think of a use for it, moved on. Meanwhile, scientists such as Howard Florey, Norman Heatley, Andrew Moyer and Ernst Chain started working on penicillin and eventually started mass producing the medicine. However, although Fleming wasn’t the first person to discover penicillin, and even though he didn’t believe it was useful, he has still been acknowledged as its true inventor.

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The same could be said for business. The ever constant battle between Samsung and Apple shows that technology and patent theft is still a contentious issue in the world of commerce.

But a nationwide survey of British workers has found that such tactics are often used in the workplace as well.

The poll, commissioned by self-made millionaire Andy Harrington, suggested that a significant proportion of the UK workforce felt undervalued in their jobs.

British workers suspect up to 93 per cent of people in their place of work have been promoted by poaching good ideas from talkative colleagues.

“The aim of this poll was to determine the extent of how praise, input and empowerment affects morale,” said Harrington.

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The concept of stealing someone’s ideas, he claimed, was mostly a factor of people working “extremely hard for their employers but seldom receiving the pat on the back” that they deserve.

“The knock-on effect is that employees become increasingly reluctant to part with good ideas and less engaged and passionate about their jobs – a vicious cycle which, ironically, is no good for business and could lead to underperforming middle-managers losing their jobs,” he said.

Some 33 per cent of respondents said feeling undervalued or un-empowered made them “angry or bitter” towards their manager, and 95 per cent said it has or would prevent them for “giving 100 per cent” in the future.

Where ideas have been stolen, the “glory” has been taken by co-workers (46 per cent) or by managers (54 per cent).

Image: Shutterstock

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