If you had a unique concept or product that could leave a lasting positive impact on the world would you give it away for free to spread its reach for the greater good? Giving away your ideas for free can still create more value in a number of ways. Increased exposure and improved reputation can lead to more opportunities and partnerships, while the greater impact on the world and the legacy your idea may leave behind can create personal satisfaction. One example of a company giving away a valuable idea for free is Volvo, who in 1959 gave away the patent for their three-point seatbelt design for free as a life-saving tool.
More recently, Starbucks and McDonald's joined forces in the NextGen Cup Challenge, an open initiative aimed at finding a fully recyclable and compostable solution for their disposable cups and lids. The ultimate goal is to create a long-lasting impact on the environmental impact of fast food packaging.
Combined, Starbucks and McDonald's distribute 4% of the world's 600 billion cups, and while their existing cups are technically recyclable, they rarely are due to a lack of proper recycling infrastructure. By coming together in the NextGen Cup Challenge, Starbucks and McDonald's hope to change the way cups are used and disposed of, and if successful, their 24 billion cups globally would be recyclable, providing a blueprint for other coffee cup manufacturers to follow. It's important to be strategic when giving away ideas for free and by being selective it is possible to create significant value through the act of giving. This is exemplified by the partnership between Starbucks and McDonald's, who are trying to create a sustainable solution for their disposable cups and lids, hoping that their combined efforts and reputation will encourage other companies to join them in finding a more environmentally friendly solution.
By giving away their ideas for the greater good, Starbucks and McDonald's are not only making a positive impact on the planet, but also building brand favor and reputation that can ultimately lead to more value in the long run.
Whilst it may seem financially advantageous to sell your ideas for profit, there are situations where giving them away for free can create more value in the long run. By increasing your exposure, improving your reputation, making a greater impact on the world, and finding personal satisfaction, giving away your ideas can lead to more opportunities and connections, as well as tangible, positive change.
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